The Child With Pediculosis Capitis

Robert J. Yetman, MD


J Pediatr Health Care. 2015;29(1):118-120. 

In This Article


Pediculosis capitis is an extraordinarily common human parasitic infestation, with millions of infestations occurring each year. Despite the prevalent myth that this condition is associated with poverty (dirty hair), all socioeconomic classes are affected, and head lice actually prefer "healthy hosts" with clean hair (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013, Frankowski and Bocchini, 2010, Hodgdon et al., 2010, Meinking and Taplin, 2011).

The adult louse is small (2 to 3 mm long) and usually pale gray in color unless engorged with blood, when they will appear red or brown. They feed every few hours by injecting small amounts of their saliva into the host's skin and withdrawing a tiny amount of blood. They usually do not subsist away from the warmth of the scalp, usually surviving less than a day (Frankowski and Bocchini, 2010, Meinking and Taplin, 2011).