How is P humanus capitis (head lice) spread in 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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Pediculosis capitis is spread by direct contact with an infested person. Head-to-head contact with an infested individual at school, at home, and while playing may result in head lice infestation; personal hygiene and environmental cleanliness are not risk factors. [4] Fomites, such as clothing, headgear, hats, combs, hairbrushes, hair barrettes, may occasionally play a role in the spread of head lice. [4] Factors that predispose to head louse infestation include young age; close, crowded living conditions; female sex; white or Asian race; and perhaps warm weather. [12] The risk of nosocomial transmission is low, unless close patient-to-patient contact (eg, playrooms, institutions) is present.

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