Although pediculosis can affect people of all ages, head lice are often found in school-aged children. Pruritus is the most common symptom of infestation; however, some people are asymptomatic. Scratching may make the host susceptible to secondary skin infections.
Head lice can be found on any part of the scalp, but are most commonly found in the postauricular and occipital areas. The adult louse secretes a sticky substance that adheres its eggs, known as nits, to the hair.
Pubic lice can be found on hairy areas throughout the body, but prefer the perineum and pubic areas. Occasionally, they are present in the eyebrows and eyelashes.
Bites from body lice can be found anywhere on the body. The body louse lays nits on clothing, especially the inner seams of fabric; therefore eggs are not found on the hair as with other lice.
Diagnosis depends on observation on observation of nits, nymphs or the adult louse. Wetting the hair and brushing with a fine-tooth comb under a magnifying glass can aid in detection.
Pediculosis treatment is a combination of medication and environmental control measures. Environmental treatment includes careful combing to remove lice and nits from hair, and thorough cleaning of hair accessories, towels, clothing and bedding. Topical medications include benzyl alcohol lotion, permethrin, pyrethrin and malathion. Hair removal is another effective option.
Lice are ectoparasites that live off of human hosts by feeding on their blood. Different species prefer to feed on different parts of the body, and include the head louse, Pediculosis capitis; the body louse, Pediculosis corporis; and the pubic louse, Pediculosis pubis.