Head Lice

By Medically reviewed by hellodoktor

Know the basics

What are head lice?

Head lice are tiny insects that live on the human scalp and human blood is their food. Pediculosis capitis is the condition of head lice infestation. It can spread out directly from the hair of one person to the hair of another.

How common are head lice?

Head lice are extremely common. It commonly affects children. It can affect patients at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Know the symptoms

What are the symptoms of head lice?

The common symptoms of head lice are:

  • Itching on the scalp, neck, and ears for 2-6 weeks after infestation.
  • Lice on the scalp. They are small, avoid light and move quickly.
  • Lice eggs (nits) on hair shafts. They are very tiny, sticky to hair shafts. Some are difficult to see due to the matching color to hair.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Know the causes

What cause head lice?

Head lice are contagious. You can become infected with head lice when the insects crawl onto your head. Lice can be transferred by brushes, combs, barrettes, headbands, headphones, and hats. They can also live for a time on upholstered furniture, bedding, towels, or clothing.


Know the risk factors

What increases my risk for head lice?

There are many risk factors for head lice, such as:

  • Hugging, touching your head to an infected person’s head;
  • Sharing the personal items (e.g., comb, hat, headphones) with an infected person.

Understand the diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How are head lice diagnosed?

You or your healthcare provider can diagnose head lice by:

  • Checking your hair, close to the scalp for lice and eggs;
  • Using a fine-toothed lice comb starting from the scalp to catch lice and eggs.

How are head lice treated?

Most treatments will need to be used two times to have the best result. After a week to nine days, the second treatment will kill any newly hatched nits. In addition, do not use more than one medication or overuse.

  • OTC: Permethrin (Nix), Pyrethrin;
  • Prescription: Benzyl alcohol lotion (Ulesfia), Malathion (Ovide), Lindane.

Lifestyle changes & Home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage head lice?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with head lice:

  • Wash clothes, bedding in hot water (54oC) and dry on high heat in the dryer.
  • Seal clothes, bedding, and plush toys in a plastic bag for two weeks.
  • Soak hair brushes, combs, barrettes, and other hair accessories in hot water (130 degrees Fahrenheit) for five to 10 minutes.
  • Vacuum floors and upholstered furniture.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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