Pediculus capitis

Author: Prof. Dr. med. Peter Altmeyer

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Last updated on: 29.10.2020

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Head louse; pediculus humanis capitis

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0.2-0.35 cm long, dorsoventrally flattened, stinging-blood-sucking, wingless insect (stationary ectoparasite) living in hairy head regions, which attaches its eggs (= nits) to the hair close to the base. S.a.u. Pediculosis capitis.

General definition
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  • Head lice go through 3 stages of development: Fertilized females lay up to 10 eggs/day. Eggs are attached to the head hairs in a water-insoluble way. Head lice live for about one month. Young lice, also called larvae or nymphs, hatch from the eggs after 7-10 days. After several moults, the nymphs reach sexual maturity within 8-10 days. 2-3 days after mating, the females lay the first eggs. The whole cycle lasts 14-28 days and is temperature-dependent.
  • Head lice need a blood meal every 2-3 hours, otherwise they dry out and die after 55 hours at the latest. They appear yellowish-brownish and have 6 clasp legs with which they hold on to the hair. They are therefore difficult to remove with a comb. The path of infection is from person to person by migration of the parasites (lice do not jump! and do not travel long distances outside the host). Pets are not carriers of head lice.

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Worldwide spread. Close interpersonal contacts, especially in the children's community facilities (school, kindergarten, after-school care), promote the spread.

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Head lice can be transmitted through the excrements:

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In contrast to the clothes louse, the head louse is not considered a carrier of infections.

Incoming links (2)

Head louse; Pediculosis corporis;


Please ask your physician for a reliable diagnosis. This website is only meant as a reference.


Last updated on: 29.10.2020