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Pediculosis capitis - Hair and Scalp
See also in: Overview,External and Internal Eye
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Pediculosis capitis - Hair and Scalp

See also in: Overview,External and Internal Eye
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Contributors: Mary Gail Mercurio MD, Jeffrey D. Bernhard MD, Lowell A. Goldsmith MD, MPH
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed

Synopsis

Pediculosis capitis is another term for infestation with head lice (Pediculous humanus capitis), a highly contagious disease that often occurs in schools and day-care centers. It can cause outbreaks anywhere that people live in close quarters, however, including nursing homes. There is usually intense pruritus of the scalp.

Transmission is by close contact (direct head-to-head contact) and fomites (eg, on clothes, brushes, linens, combs, hats, etc). Lice live approximately 30 days on the host and <1 day off the host. Eggs (nits) hatch within 7-10 days.

Worldwide incidence of pediculosis appears to be on the rise, most likely due to resistance to lindane and permethrin, the standard treatment during the past 2 decades. Resistance to therapy has become prevalent in recent years.

Codes

ICD10CM:
B85.0 – Pediculosis due to Pediculus humanus capitis

SNOMEDCT:
81000006 – Pediculosis capitis

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Diagnostic Pearls

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Differential Diagnosis & Pitfalls

  • The scales of seborrheic dermatitis may be mistaken for pediculosis capitis; however, these scales are greasy, yellow, irregular in shape, and are easily removable, unlike the scales of pediculosis capitis, which adhere to the hair shaft.
  • Tinea capitis has similar pruritus and lymphadenopathy but is associated with alopecia. Nits are not found on close examination of the hair.
  • Psocid lice living off plant detritus may be found in the scalp of a child who plays in wooded areas but are morphologically distinct from Pediculosis humanis capitis.
  • Psoriasis, lichen planopilaris, and folliculitis all cause pruritic scalp but are morphologically distinctive skin disorders.

Best Tests

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Management Pearls

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Therapy

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References

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Last Updated: 07/09/2015
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Pediculosis capitis - Hair and Scalp
See also in: Overview,External and Internal Eye
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Pediculosis capitis : Concretions on hair, Lice exposure, Occipital lymphadenopathy, Pruritus
Clinical image of Pediculosis capitis
A close-up of nits along hair shafts on the scalp hair.
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