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Pediculosis is a topic covered in the 5-Minute Emergency Consult.

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  • Infestation by organisms that live in close association with host
  • Bites are painless
  • Signs and symptoms result from host response to saliva and anticoagulant injected during feeding
  • Transmitted by direct contact and fomites (inanimate objects)
  • Head lice are transmitted by head-to-head contact:
    • Combs
    • Pillows
    • Hats
  • Head lice are more common in children and females
  • Pubic lice are transmitted by sexual contact
  • Obligate human parasites cannot survive away from hosts >7–10 days


Infestation by:
  • Pediculus capitis (head louse):
    • Most common
    • All socioeconomic groups
  • Pediculus corporis (body louse):
    • Associated with poverty, poor hygiene, and overcrowding
    • Live in clothing and transfer to human host for feeding
    • Can live up to 30 days off of human
    • Related to bed bugs
  • Phthirus pubis (pubic or crab louse)

Pediatric Considerations
Pubic lice may also indicate sexual abuse in children

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Rosen, Peter, et al., editors. "Pediculosis." 5-Minute Emergency Consult, 5th ed., Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2016. Emergency Central, emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307451/all/Pediculosis.
Pediculosis. In: Rosen P, Shayne P, Barkin AZ, et al, eds. 5-Minute Emergency Consult. 5th ed. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2016. https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307451/all/Pediculosis. Accessed April 26, 2019.
Pediculosis. (2016). In Rosen, P., Shayne, P., Barkin, A. Z., Wolfe, R. E., Hayden, S. R., Barkin, R. M., & Schaider, J. J. (Eds.), 5-Minute Emergency Consult. Available from https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307451/all/Pediculosis
Pediculosis [Internet]. In: Rosen P, Shayne P, Barkin AZ, Wolfe RE, Hayden SR, Barkin RM, Schaider JJ, editors. 5-Minute Emergency Consult. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2016. [cited 2019 April 26]. Available from: https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307451/all/Pediculosis.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - ELEC T1 - Pediculosis ID - 307451 ED - Rosen,Peter, ED - Shayne,Philip, ED - Barkin,Adam Z, ED - Wolfe,Richard E, ED - Hayden,Stephen R, ED - Barkin,Roger M, ED - Schaider,Jeffrey J, BT - 5-Minute Emergency Consult UR - https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307451/all/Pediculosis PB - Lippincott Williams & Wilkins ET - 5 DB - Emergency Central DP - Unbound Medicine ER -