What is pediculosis and pthiriasis (lice infestation)?

Updated: Aug 16, 2019
  • Author: Lyn C C Guenther, MD, FRCPC, FAAD; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Answer

Pediculosis (ie, louse infestation) dates back to prehistory. The oldest known fossils of louse eggs (ie, nits) are approximately 10,000 years old. [1] Lice have been so ubiquitous that related terms and phrases such as "lousy," "nit-picking," and "going over things with a fine-tooth comb" are part of everyday vocabulary.

Louse infestation remains a major problem throughout the world, making the diagnosis and treatment of louse infestation a common task in general medical practice. [2] All socioeconomic groups can be affected. Pediculosis capitis results in significant psychological stress in children and adults and missed schooldays in children, particularly in areas with a no-nit policy. [3]


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