Symptoms and causes

Head lice

Head lice is a contagious skin infection with a blood-sucking parasite (pediculus humanus capitis). You can get infected through hair-to-hair contact with another person who has head lice. Usually, it is seen in school children who play closely together. It is unclear whether lice can also be transmitted through clothing.

The main symptom people experience is itching on the scalp. When you check the scalp, you can see white specks that stick to the hairs. These are the eggs or nits. Sometimes you can also see a louse moving in the hair.

Pubic lice

Pubic lice are the same lice as the main lice, but smaller. They are found in the pubic area, armpit and belly hairs, eyelashes and eyebrows. Pubic lice are usually sexually transmitted.

Are usually sexually transmitted. Treatment is the same as for head lice.

Diagnosis and treatment

Head lice

A head lice diagnosis is based on what the dermatologist sees with the naked eye and sometimes with the dermatoscope.

The first choice of treatment is still the 'wet-comb method'. The hair is combed thoroughly every day with a lice comb when it is wet. Conditioner can be used, if necessary. This may be insufficient, in which case special anti-lice medication will be prescribed.

Pubic lice

Treatment is the same as for head lice.

Treatment centres and specialisations


Latest publication date: 21/01/2021
Supervising author: Dr Van Autryve Els