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Pediculosis or lice infestation is something, I think, each one of us has grappled with. Commonly, it’s seen in school kids who tend to pick it up from their ‘near and dear’ friends!

How to recognize it?

Lice are small, dark brown or black parasites that tend to occur on hairy parts of the body, basically the scalp. They feed on the blood and lay their eggs, called nits, which are whitish and tend to stick to the hair. Lice tend to spread to close contacts, but they don’t hop and fly. There are certain types of lice, called pubic lice, that are considered a sexually transmitted disease.

Signs and symptoms

Lice infestation causes itching in the scalp. Sometimes, one can spot a louse in the comb or even see the nits sticking to the hair. Kids often complain of a feeling of something moving in their scalp. There might also be some sore areas.

How to treat lice?

The challenge with treating lice is that the lice might also be in the items of personal use, like hats, scarves, towels. So, one has to treat these as well as the actual patient. Medscape recommends washing these items in hot water for more than 5 minutes at a temperature of more than 53.5 degrees centigrade. 

For the actual treatment of the lice, these days easy use shampoos are available which contain ingredients like permethrin or permethrin in a 1% strength. These are meant to be applied, left for a few minutes and then washed off. The treatment needs to be repeated a couple of times at two-weekly intervals as the treatment doesn’t act on the nits.

Dos and Don’ts

  • Avoid sharing combs and towels
  • Washing of bed linen in hot water can help in preventing the recurrence of the issue
  • It’s a good idea to check everyone in the family for lice. It’s, in fact, a good idea to treat all the family members for lice.
  • Don’t send a child with head lice to school as it could cause it to spread to the other children.


  • How long does it take to get lice after being exposed?

It can take from 10 days to two weeks to develop lice after being exposed.

  • How long does it take to get rid of lice?

Since the treatments for lice don’t act on the eggs, that is the nits, the treatment has to be continued till all the nits have hatched. Generally, two or three treatments every two weeks work well to get rid of the problem.

  • How does head lice spread?

Lice can’t fly, they spread by crawling from one hair to another. Any time your hair touches hair with lice, you are at risk of getting lice.

  • Can head lice go away on their own?

Lice tend to go on multiplying via the nits. Without treatment they can spread to affect all members of the family.

Though lice are a common problem, it can be quite bothersome. But with the correct treatment for the recommended duration, it can be easily dealt with.

We strongly recommend that you consult your doctor before starting any treatment regime.

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