What is pediculosis?
Pediculosis, popularly known as lice infestations, is a contagious parasitic disease that can appear on the head, body, eyelashes, eyebrows or in the pubic hair region.
Like ectoparasites, lice live outside the host, using human blood as its source of nutrition, which can cause itching and tingling in the affected region.
The louse is small and wingless, it can be seen with the naked eye and its infestation occurs from direct contact with the hair of an infected person or through shared objects. In the last thirty years there has been a significant increase in the incidence of cases due to the rapid multiplication of the parasite, which, over its short life of thirty to forty days, is able to lay more than two hundred eggs.
School-age children are the most affected by the capillary type, with a higher incidence in girls, but they can cover any gender and age, including adults.
Parasiticizing humans, there are basically three types of lice:
Popularly known as “flat”, pubic lice are caused by Pthirus pubis and affect both men and women from puberty, clinging to the hair on the genital region, which makes the disease considered an STD. The parasite can also live on the hair on the thighs, buttocks and lower abdomen.
Body lice are caused by Pediculus humanus humanus and are frequent in cases where hygiene habits are precarious, where they cling to body and bed clothes, infecting the host from the tissue.
Caused by Pediculus humanus capitis, capillary lice are the most common of the types of lice and live attached to the hair and attack the scalp, especially behind the ears. In young children they can sometimes develop on the eyebrows and eyelashes.
Lice are parasites acquired through close contact with contaminated objects or people, regardless of sex, age, race or social class. In cases of body lice, poor hygiene is an essential cause.
Nits consist of the louse’s eggs deposited by the females near the scalp. Its color is similar to tiny yellow and white dots, visually similar to capillary dandruff, but more attached to the hair. About ten are deposited per day, with an average time of eight days for the birth of a new louse. After hatching, the skin remains attached to the scalp.
Adult lice and nymphs
Adult lice live about three to four weeks, while nymphs become adults in about one to two weeks after they hatch. Lice are small, about the size of a sesame seed, brownish or black in color and like to breed in warm areas, and can survive up to two days out of hair until they move to a new host.
Lice are more common in crowded environments and spread easily. Transmission occurs similarly to causes, such as:
- Contact with a person who has lice, such as co-workers, schoolmates or who share the same house;
- Sharing objects for hair use, such as hats, brushes, tiaras, among others;
- Sharing infested clothes and bedding. If you store them before exterminating the lice, the spread of the parasite will be aided;
- In the case of pubic lice, intimate contact between the pubic regions during sexual intercourse.
As for the transmission of lice, it is important to note:
- Human lice are unable to infect or be transmitted by pets;
- Capillary lice are not signs of poor hygiene, as they are contracted from close contact regardless of hair care;
- Lice are not transmitted without contact, as it does not fly or jump.
Children between 3 and 12 years old who go to daycare, preschool and primary school are the main concerns, mainly on the part of their parents. Children of this age usually play very close and have more capillary contacts, as through the division of objects between friends.
School environments tend to be on the alert in warmer seasons, a season that usually has more signs of infestation. Adults who live with these children are also more likely to be infested with lice.
In general, lice tickle, because of the sensation of something moving above the skin, and intense itching, reaction of the saliva released when the parasite feeds on the host. Intense cases cause difficulty sleeping and red spots from these itches.
Lice contamination without symptoms is possible, as in children who do not report complaints of itching.
With the use of a fine comb and good lighting it is possible to detect the existence of lice, and you should be alert even with a single nit found. The diagnosis of a lice infestation must be confirmed after finding a live adult nymph or louse, otherwise the infestation is probably no longer active and will not need to be treated.
If you are not sure about the lice infestation, you should make the diagnosis with the specialized doctor, who will collect information about the symptoms and the living environment that the patient is included with. Experts may vary according to the type of disease:
The general practitioner, pediatrician or dermatologist will recommend shampoos to be used to treat the infestation.
The doctors to be sought to treat pubic lice are the gynecologist or urologist, who will indicate the use of antiparasitic remedies.
The treatment for lice can be made from shampoos, creams and insecticidal lotions, most of which are purchased directly from the pharmacy. Homemade methods are also indicated, especially for children, as they are not toxic. If the problem persists or is more serious, consult a doctor to be prescribed the use of an oral antibiotic.
Regardless of the treatment method chosen, the following guidelines should be followed:
- The removal of nits and lice can be performed with tweezers or a fine comb;
- Lice or nits should never be popped with the nail, because if you have a sore on your fingers you can get some kind of infection;
- Treatment care must be followed until you are sure that no lice or nits are present.
Some substances used include:
- Permitrina ;
The most commonly used drugs to treat lice are:
- Ivermectin : oral antiparasitic medication, for severe cases;
- Dimethicone : silicone that immobilizes the louse causing asphyxiation and dehydration. It blocks the breathing holes by fighting and preventing their appearance. It is not effective for nits. It can be used by children, pregnant women and nursing mothers;
- Octane-1,2-diol: alcohol that attacks and envelops lice, which dry out inside and die;
- Coconut oil: blocks lice from breathing, leading to death.
Medicinal lice shampoos:
- Deltacid: shampoo medicinal;
- Escabin : shampoo, lotion or medicinal soap.
To use the medical shampoo, rinse and dry the hair before applying the medicine on the scalp. Leave the product on for about 10 minutes and then rinse it off.
You should check for lice or nits around 8 to 12 hours. If you find live lice, you should repeat the application after one week of use. If the problem still persists, talk to your doctor about another treatment.
Home remedies for head lice
Vinegar and olive oil
In pregnant women, nursing mothers and children under two years of age, the use of substances with insecticide is not indicated. In these cases, it is recommended to extract the lice with a wet comb. The process takes time and the vinegar or oil can be used to help with the removal.
Heat the vinegar or oil until it is warm and mix it with the conditioner or water, apply and smother with a plastic cap. The process will dissolve the layer that surrounds the nits, preventing attachment to the hair strand. This method will not kill the parasites, it will only facilitate their removal with a fine comb.
The rue tea eliminates lice and helps to soothe the itchy scalp.
- 40 g of rue leaves;
- 1 liter of boiling water.
Method of preparation and use:
- Place the rue leaves in the boiling water and let it steep for 10 minutes;
- Apply the tea while still warm to the hair and let it act for 30 minutes;
- Wash with neutral shampoo;
- With the wires still wet, use a fine comb to remove dead lice and nits.
The intense aroma of citronella spray keeps insects away, including lice.
- 150 ml of liquid glycerin;
- 150 ml of citronella tincture;
- 350 ml of alcohol;
- 350 ml of water.
Method of preparation and use:
- Mix the ingredients and close the container tightly;
- Apply to the scalp and let it act for a few minutes.
Apply one of the following oils in equal proportions to the entire scalp and let it act overnight:
- Lavender oil;
- Peppermint oil;
- Eucalyptus oil.
In the morning, wash your hair with a shampoo for oily hair.
Spray camphoric alcohol all over your hair to prevent lice infestations.
NEVER self-medicate or stop using a medication without first consulting a doctor. Only he will be able to tell which medication, dosage and duration of treatment is the most suitable for his specific case. The information contained on this site is only intended to inform, not in any way intended to replace the guidance of a specialist or serve as a recommendation for any type of treatment. Always follow the instructions on the package insert and, if symptoms persist, seek medical or pharmaceutical advice.
During the louse infestation period, the infected person’s clothing and other personal belongings must be washed separately. Combs, brushes, hair clips and other hair accessories should be immersed in water with a temperature of 60 ºC with soap for 10 minutes.
While you are under treatment for capillary lice, you should avoid drying the strands with a hair dryer. The infected individual must be removed from the school and / or school environment to avoid spreading the problem. People in close proximity should be aware if they have no evidence of the existence of the louse.
Pubic lice should be avoided in order to protect their partner, as condoms do not prevent pubic hair contact.
Frantically scratching lice bites can lead to the opening of wounds and infections, such as pyoderma, caused when the staph bacteria, which lives on our skin, contaminates the open wound.
Lice infestation will not be resolved without proper treatment, as the parasite’s life cycle repeats around every three weeks.
If you do not eliminate the source of the problem, such as treating other people who have had contact with the infected person, the parasites can come back.
Capillary lice are difficult to prevent because they are transmitted by agglomeration and not by hygiene and by-products, but they follow the adjustments that can be made to prevent infestation:
- Do not share personal belongings, especially those that have direct contact with the scalp;
- With a fine comb, inspect the wires for lice and nits;
- In children, watch when they frequently scratch their heads;
- Influence inspection of children in schools;
- Do not omit if there is any manifestation of lice and influence so that others do not omit too, because in this way the treatment is limited to some and does not prevent the parasite from spreading.
For the prevention of other lice it is also advised:
- Maintain good body hygiene;
- Take care of places for public use;
- Do not share towels and underwear;
- Ensure careful choice of sexual partner;
- Wash clothes, sheets, pillows, teddy bears, among others, regularly.
Be alert for any signs of itching and check the children’s heads frequently. Lice infestation is common, as the treatment is simple and available to everyone.
To ensure your health and that of your family members, share this article so that everyone is aware of the damage that this parasite can cause.