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Pediculosis infestation and Remedies

Dr. Shalini V.R, Consultant Dermatologist, SUT Hospital, Pattom

A very common ectoparasite that lives on the skin is Pediculus capitis var hominis or lice. It can affect any age group, but is most common in children between the ages of 5 and 12. It is mostly seen in girls because it is a good condition to grow in long dense hair. Hygiene and lice are not related, but lice can grow easily on a warm scalp and curly or knotted hair. It spreads easily from one person to another.

It is very easy to identify if someone is infected with lice. Combing with a fine-toothed comb will reveal lice. Or you can see its egg sticking to the hair. There will be itching and red bumps on the scalp. In some people, inflammation of the tonsils is also seen.

Many people are reluctant to treat them simply because they are commonly seen. But we need to know that a lice sucks blood up to 6 times a day. It causes anaemia in children. When the head is scratched and a wound appears, the infection can occur there and in some cases, the infection can even affect other organs. Therefore, it is essential to treat the lice infestation.

Two types of treatment are commonly available are:-

1. Oral medications
Anthelmintic drugs such as Ivermectol and Albendazole are also effective against lice. Some antibiotics are also effective.

2. Topical ointments.
Permethrin 1% Lotion is commonly used.
a. Apply lotion on wet combed hair.
b. A shower cap should be worn after applying lotion.
c. Leave it on for 10-15 minutes and then wash your hair with plenty of water.
d. Comb the head with a wide-toothed comb. This medicine does not destroy the eggs of lice and should be reapplied in 10 days.

The eggs of lice are held to the hair using a glue-like liquid, so removing it by hand can damage the hair strands. Keeping lice at bay is easier than getting rid of lice. Those who suffer from persistent head lice should note the following.

1. When treating a lice infestation, check for lice in those living with or in close contact with the person.

2. Do not use hair combs, brushes, and other accessories (Clip, Scarf) of others. (Lice remain dormant in such materials for 10-15 days and can hatch into when they reach the head).

3. Wash towels, combs, bed sheets and pillow covers in hot water (soaking for 5 minutes is enough).

4. Keep non-washable items (soft toys) in a plastic cover for 2 weeks. If the lice do not reach human body, they will be destroyed by themselves.

5. Consult a dermatologist if you have sores on the scalp.