pediculosis capitis

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

pe·dic·u·lo·sis ca·p'i·tis

the presence of lice on the scalp, seen especially in children, with nits attached to hairs.
Enlarge picture
Enlarge picture

pediculosis capitis

A scalp infection caused by head lice, Pediculus humanus capitis, a common parasite in children. Outbreaks are common in schools, esp. among children between the ages of 5 and 11. The infection is transmitted through use of personal items such as hair ornaments, combs, hairbrushes, hats, scarves, or coats or through direct contact between the heads of two children. Lice, which feed on blood obtained by biting the skin, cause itching, esp. around the ears, in the occipital area, and at the nape of the neck. Long-standing infestations may produce chronic inflammation. The adult louse is seen rarely; diagnosis usually is made through the presence of eggs (nits), which appear as whitish sacs attached to the hair. See: illustration


Itching and eczematous dermatitis. In long-standing, neglected cases, scratching may result in marked inflammation. Secondary infection by bacteria may occur, with formation of pustules, crusts, and suppuration. Hair may become matted and malodorous.


Therapies for lice infestations are modified frequently, to match the resistance of lice to current therapies and to minimize the toxicities of medications. Manual removal of lice always is appropriate and is strongly recommended by lice specialists. Others recommend the use of insecticides (pediculocides).

Patient care

The patient and family are taught how to apply medication (lindane, permethrin, pyrethrins, piperonyl butoxide, malathion) to dry hair for lice and are warned that the eyes should be immediately flushed with copious amounts of water if the medication accidentally contacts them. They are informed about minimizing the spread of infection by washing or dry cleaning all clothing and linen used in the home, delousing of rugs and upholstered furniture with sprays or vacuuming, keeping combs and brushes separate, and using medicinal shampoos if there has been contact with the patient.

See also: pediculosis
References in periodicals archive ?
The only factor that was statistically significantly related to pediculosis capitis was size of the household; [greater than or equal to] 6 inhabitants was associated with increased prevalence (9).
and Canada may be an effective alternative to existing insecticide-based products for the treatment of pediculosis capitis (head lice).
of treatments for pediculosis capitis infestations.