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Lice infestations, also known as pediculosis, can be caused by head lice, body lice or clothes lice as well as pubic lice or crabs. Lice are usually transmitted from person to person; in other cases, transmission occurs through shared hairbrushes, mattresses or clothing. Head lice usually spread in nurseries and schools and have nothing to do with the personal hygiene of those affected. Clothes lice mainly occur in homeless people and hostels; crabs are transmitted through sexual intercourse. A louse sucks blood several times a day and introduces salivary gland secretions into the wound. This in turn leads to itching. Without a blood meal, head lice and crabs die after around two days. Lice are treated with over-the-counter lice remedies.


Those affected by a lice infestation often suffer from severe itching. Head lice infestations primarily affect the scalp, but eczema can also develop behind the ears or on the back of the neck. Felt lice infest the hair in the genital or anal area - but the armpits, thighs, stomach, chest, beard, eyebrows or eyelashes can also be infested. Clothes lice - as their name suggests - do not live on the body, but in clothing. Itching often occurs at the seams or hems of clothing. Separated from humans, head lice and crabs survive for around two days - clothes lice survive for a week to ten days. However, clothes lice die at temperatures above 46 degrees.


The quicker the treatment is carried out, the quicker the success of the treatment. Those affected with head lice or crabs should start treatment on the day of diagnosis. Parents are also obliged to inform the school or kindergarten of a head lice infestation - this is to prevent the spread of lice. Clothes lice in particular can transmit pathogens that cause, among other things, spotted fever or five-day fever.


Lice usually spread from person to person or through objects that have been shared, for example, mattresses or hairbrushes. Lice are blood-sucking parasites that need to feed on blood several times a day. Lice lay their eggs, known as nits, on hair and fabric fibres. The larvae hatch from the nits after around a week.


The doctor examines the body in detail. If the head is infested with lice, a special lice comb makes it easier to find lice and their eggs. In the case of a crab lice infestation, the doctor will examine the skin and the bruises caused by lice bites. Clothes lice, on the other hand, are found in the seams of clothes - those affected show typical striped marks on the skin due to scratching.

A lice infestation can also be easily diagnosed by telemedicine. Doctors ask exactly which parts of the body are affected. Pictures of lice or the affected areas of skin help to make a diagnosis. Wet combing is important: If the affected person finds live lice, the diagnosis is confirmed.


Anyone infested with lice should start treatment as soon as possible.

Head lice: Lice repellents in the form of shampoos, emulsions or gels kill the lice. The product is massaged into the wet hair and then combed out wet. Treatment with the lice treatment must be repeated eight to ten days later, as the lice eggs are very resistant and may hatch again. Pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding should refrain from using lice repellent and instead only use a lice comb to combat the infestation. It is advisable to apply a hair conditioner beforehand and to remove the lice by combing them out wet.

Clothes lice: Infested clothing or textiles (e.g. bed linen) should be washed at 60 degrees. Mattresses and pillows are treated with insecticides; the body should be thoroughly cleaned.

Items should be placed in a tightly closed plastic bag in the freezer for two days in the case of head lice and for a fortnight in the case of clothes or crabs. In the case of crabs, it is important that the sexual partner is also treated and that a dermatologist is consulted if necessary.


Head lice should be treated as soon as an infestation is detected. Clothes lice can be avoided thanks to adequate hygiene; in the case of crabs, it is advisable to avoid close physical contact. Intimate shaving reduces the risk of a crab lice infestation.

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