The Open Dermatology Journal

ISSN: 1874-3722 ― Volume 10, 2016

Diagnosis of Head Lice Infestations: An Evidence-Based Review

The Open Dermatology Journal, 2010, 4: 69-71

Hermann Feldmeier

Institute for Microbiology and Hygiene, Charite University Medicine, Campus Benjamin Franklin, Hindenburgdamm 27, D-12203 Berlin, Germany.

Electronic publication date 14/7/2010
[DOI: 10.2174/1874372201004010069]


The diagnosis of head lice infestation is made through visual inspection of the hair and the scalp or by dry/wet combing. The choice of the method essentially depends whether the examiner aims at the detection of active infestation – presence of trophic stages and/or viable eggs 7ndash; or wants to identify a historical infestation (presence only of nits/dead eggs). For the latter purpose, visual inspection of the hair at five predilection sites (temples, behind the ears, neck) is the method of choice (sensitivity 80% - 90%). The optimal method for the diagnosis of active head lice infestation is wet combing with a sensitivity ≥ 90%, even in children with a low infestation intensity. In resource-pour settings, where pediculosis capitis is very common and infestation intensity is high, self-diagnosis by affected individuals or their caretakers is an accurate alternative.

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