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A Journal on Dermatology

Journal of Istituto Dermatologico San Gallicano
Official Journal of the Associazione Dermatologi Ospedalieri Italiani - A.D.O.I.
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Esperienze Dermatologiche 2013 September;15(3):107-12


language: Italian

Head lice

Calista D. 1, Sama E. 1, Venturelli C. 2

1 Unità Operativa di Dermatologia, Ospedale “M. Bufalini”, Ausl Cesena, Cesena, Italia; 2 Dipartimento Sanità Pubblica, Ausl Cesena, Cesena, Italia


Head lice are bloodsucking insects belonging to the order Anopluri. There are 4000 different species of lice 560 of which, grouped into 15 families, are able to parasitize mammals and only 3 species infect humans: Pediculus corporis, Pediculus capitis and Phtirus pubis. Lice are species specific and outside of the human body can survive for 48 hours without feeding while the eggs remain viable for about 10 days. The life of head lice takes about 4 weeks, and is accomplished through three stages of maturity: egg, nymph, adult. The latency period between transmission of the parasite and the onset of symptoms is 4-6 weeks, the time needed to develop an immune reaction. In subsequent infestations latency time is reduced to 24-48 hours for the already present awareness. The clinical diagnosis of pediculosis is easy with a careful inspection. The semiotics of pediculosis is characteristic: a congruent history, direct observation of the lice and their eggs, considerable itching especially at night, erythematous or cerulean macules. The therapeutic approach involves two treatments the patient at a distance of 7-10 days and all those with whom you have had intimate contact. The larvae develop their nervous system from 4 days after their deposition, as a result drugs acting with neurotoxic mechanism as permethrin and malathyon are not active for a week. Cotrimoxazole acts by destroying the bacterial flora, while ivermectin, by selectively binding to ion channels chlorine gluttammato-dependent chloride employees and those of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) of nerve and muscle cells, induces paralysis and death of the parasite.

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