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Semin Cutan Med Surg. 2014 Sep;33(3):116-8.


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Department of Dermatology, Hôpital Henri Mondor, Crèteil, France.


Pediculosis (capitis, corporis, and pubis) share well-known features: worldwide prevalence (involving millions of people annually); parasites inducing skin lesions directly, and indirectly as a result of itching and hypersensitivity to parasites; and treatment based on good entomological knowledge of the parasite and practical considerations (ie, most available treatments do not act on eggs and should be repeated, depending on the life cycle of the parasites). Infestations are spread most commonly by close contacts. Social stigma and persistent misconceptions complicate the implementation of appropriate management strategies. Head and pubic lice infestations are diagnosed by the visualization of insects or viable nits (eggs). Primary treatments are topical pediculicides (permethrin or malathion), used twice, but emergence of resistance against pediculicides has created the need of alternative treatments including topical or oral ivermectin. Pubic lice are treated the same as head lice, but this finding should prompt evaluation for other sexually transmitted diseases. Body lice infestation should be suspected when symptoms of generalized itching occur in persons who do not change or wash their clothing or bedding regularly; lice may be found in the seams of their clothing.Topically administered permethrin may help to eradicate body lice, but personal hygiene measures are essential for successful treatment. Environmental treatment is also necessary for the eradication of the infestation. Health care personnel who come into contact with this population need to be well informed of the facts in order to disseminate accurate information for diagnosis and management.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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