Pediculosis Capitis Facts

Pediculus humanus capitis is the Latin term for the common head louse; below you can see a break down of the meaning

    Pediculus a wingless, parasitic insect that lives on warm-blooded mammals and sucks on their blood and is part of the Hemiptera family of insects.

    Huamnus The Latin word for human

    Capitis The Latin word for the head

So the Latin term Pediculus humanus capitis translates as a wingless, parasitic insect of the human head.

As the Latin term translation shows, the head louse is an insect of the human head but it doesnt explain more than this so below you will find a lot more information about the common head louse.

Head Lice

The head louse is part of the Hemiptera family of insects, the Hemiptera group is made up from sixty seven thousand five hundred insects, which do split down further in to sub orders within the family.

The Hemiptera are grouped because, unlike all other insects, they have a proboscis (probe) to suck nectar or blood, depending which insect it is.

Head lice live on average, for about five weeks or so; in this time they hatch from an egg in to a nymph.

Life Cycle

As a nymph they grow for about twelve days, during which they pass through three stages of metamorphoses where they actually shed their exoskeleton to help with their growth.

After about twelve days they mature into an adult and this is when the sex of the head louse is determines, the adult louse lives for up to thirty days, for the whole of its life time they procreate and can have about two hundred children.

Head lice do not have wings so they can only move from one human head to another by walking; this means they can only be transmitted by close contact. This does not stop the spread of head lice as they are very contagious and move freely from person to person, family to family. Children between the ages of four and eleven are the main culprits in the spread of infection due to how close they get to friends during play.

There are many treatments on the market to combat head lice infestation; most of these come in the form of lotions, shampoos and creams that contain insecticide. The problem with insecticide is that in large doses it can be harmful to humans but in the small amounts used in the shampoos and lotions it sometimes doesnt kill the head lice off and they become immune to the insecticide used, so they are harder to treat.

What you need to know

Head lice may be contagious but they are not dangerous, the worst you can get is itching to the head, sores on the scalp and, in some cases a little embarrassment. There are many treatments on the market so it is difficult to tell you which o to use; it is probably the best practice to ask your local pharmacist which treatment they believe is the most effective to use.

Like This Article? Sciencebeta has a free 3 times weekly digest of the most interesting and intriguing articles in psychology, neuroscience, neurology, and cognitive sciences. Want to give it a try? Subscribe right here