Pediculosis Capitis

What is Pediculosis Capitis?

Pediculosis capitis, also known as head lice, is an infestation of head lice, which are tiny wingless parasites that feed on human blood and live in human hair. They are most commonly found amongst children, although adults can also contract them. Symptoms include itching of the scalp, small white eggs called nits on the hair shafts, and spotting of white or dark brown lice crawling on the scalp.

Risk Factors

Head lice have been found in the hair of people of all ages, genders, and races. The risk for contracting head lice is highest among children between the ages of 3–10, who have frequent contact with other children. Other risk factors include crowding, poor hygiene, and the absence of good personal hygiene.

Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of pediculosis capitis include:

  1. Itching of the scalp, neck, ears, and face.
  2. White or dark brown lice crawling on the scalp.
  3. Tiny white eggs (nits) firmly affixed to the base of the hair shaft.
  4. Reddish spots on the scalp or neck caused by bites from the lice or scratching.


Treatment for pediculosis capitis involves the topical application of products that contain insecticides, such as lindane, permethrin, or pyrethrin. It is important to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer. For example, these medications should not be used on children under two years of age or on pregnant or nursing women. After treatment, it is important to remove the nits (lice eggs) from the hair shafts, which can be done using a fine toothed comb.


To prevent reinfection, it is important to practice good hygiene, such as:

  • Wash the hair regularly.
  • Avoid sharing of clothing, hats, combs, brushes, and scarves.
  • Avoid close contact with people who have head lice.
  • Daily checking and treating of hair.