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Can Fam Physician. 2012 Aug;58(8):839-41.

An incurable itch: head lice.

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  • 1Pediatric Research in Emergency Therapeutics program, BC Children's Hospital, Vancouver, BC.



Head lice infestations continue to be seen frequently in many communities. Some of these children require multiple treatments before eradication. What are the current treatment recommendations for head lice?


Head lice (Pediculus humanus capitis) infestations are common, particularly among school-aged children. In order to minimize louse resistance, insecticide usage, and social stigmatization, diagnosis and treatment should be limited to those with live lice on the scalp. Options for management are predominantly topical therapies or physical removal. Large studies comparing the efficacy of these treatments are lacking. Treatment should be repeated in approximately 7 days if topical insecticides are used or every 2 to 3 days for 2 weeks if wet combing is used. Lice resistance patterns vary widely geographically, and resistance is now the most common cause of treatment failure.

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