Pediculosis and Pediculisides

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Introduction

Pediculosis capitis refers to the infestation of the scalp by lice and the medications used to eliminate the lice are known as pediculisides. This condition is common in school-going children, adolescents as well as young adults. Several over-the-counter (OTC) medications are available to treat this condition. Caution should be taken while using it on children below 2 years of age.1,2

OTC Medications

Most of the OTC medications for lice contain certain specific agents known as:

  • pyrethrin and
  • permethrin.1–4  

These OTC medications are available as shampoos or hair rinse and may be available in combination with other drugs to increase their efficacy. For effective treatment, these medications must be applied adequately to cover the scalp and hair and the course should be reapplied after 7–10 days if the first application was not helpful.

Pyrethrin

The OTC pediculisides contain pyrethrin at a concentration of 0.33% and may commonly be available as a combination product.

Application

  • Adequate shampoo should be applied to dry hair and then allowed to set for 10 min before rinsing.
  • Comb with fine toothed comb to remove dead lice, eggs and nits from hair.
  • The same procedure should be repeated once every week for a month.

Contraindication

Known allergy to the drug.

Side-Effects

Mild skin irritation.

Permethrin

Permethrin is present in a concentration of 1% in the OTC pediculisides. Perlice is a commonly available pedicuiliside.  

Dosage

  • Adequate lotion should be applied to dry hair and then allowed to set for 5–10 min before rinsing.
  • Comb with fine toothed comb to remove dead lice, eggs and nits from hair.
  • A single application is generally sufficient; repeat after 7–10 days if lice recur.

Contraindication

Known allergy to the drug

Side-Effects

Mild skin irritation.

When to Seek Medical Help for Pediculosis

Prompt medical care should be sought if:

  • Over-the-counter medicine has not cleared the lice after several applications.
  • Pediculosis is severe and the scalp is reddened or becomes tender.

References

  1. Frankowski BL. American Academy of Pediatrics Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Head Lice Infestation. Am J Manag Care. 2004; 10: S269–S272.
  2. West DP. Head lice treatment costs and the impact on managed care. Am J Manag Care. 2004; 10: S277–S282.
  3. Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Principles of Infectious Diseases. 5th edn. New York, NY: Churchill Livingstone, 2000, pp. 2972–2973.
  4. Leung AK, Fong JH, Pinto-Rojas A. Pediculosis capitis. J Pediatr Health Care. 2005; 19(6): 369–373.

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Written by: healthplus24.com team
Date last updated: May 12, 2015