If you know what pediculosis capitis means, then probably your kids have brought head lice home from school or from day care. Pediculosis is the scientific name for a head lice infestation. Kids in all the countries of the world have to deal with this condition. Adults also may get head lice, but kids of 5 to 11 years of age get infested with them most often.


Pediculus capitis (or pediculus humanus capitis), or head louse, is a parasite which lives exclusively on humans. When lice fall off their host, they perish within 48 hours. These parasites are blood sucking: they feed on our blood and warm with our bodies’ warmth. The head and hair gives them all they need to live and reproduce.

If your kids have pediculosis capitis, there is no need to panic. These insects cannot transmit any disease to your kids. The only health trouble they produce is some itching and scratching, which may actually lead to a skin infection of the head called impetigo, if your kids scratch their scalps a lot.

Getting rid of head lice is a must, because the entire family can easily catch them, too. Until kids are rid of head lice and their eggs, called nits, they might not attend school or day care. Even though lice cannot jump or fly, they can crawl. When playing or studying, kids sit close together and risk to get infested with lice through direct head-to-head contact.

In fact, this is the most common way to get lice or pediculus capitis. Kids also tend to share their personal belongings such as hair bands or helmets more often than the adults. To prevent getting head lice, teach your kids to never share combs or brushes and never try someone else’s hat or helmet, or anything that touches the hair and scalp.

Now, once you’ve got lice, there are many products you can use to get rid of them. The fastest and most efficient head lice treatments are pesticides. There are a number of them available on the market in the form of over-the-counter or prescription products.


Some of the pesticides are safer to use, because they do not get absorbed into your skin, while others can be toxic for people. Let us take a look at a list of insecticides available for treating pediculosis capitis.

  • Pyrethrin

This is originally a natural insecticide. It is made of the chrysanthemum flowers. It works as a neurotoxin and kills only adult lice or nymphs, the baby lice. It does not kill the lice’s eggs, called nits. Thus, it requires a second application 7 days after the first one to kill the newly hatched lice.

Pyrethrin is comparably non toxic for people. However, it should not be used for treating kids under 2 years of age or pregnant women.

Head lice can develop resistance to this pesticide, in this case it becomes ineffective.

  • Permethrin

This is a new generation pediculosis capitis insecticide. It is synthetic, but it was developed to match the formula and best qualities of pyrethrin. However, it is much less toxic than its natural equivalent. Another benefit of permethrin is that it can be safely used by people with plant allergies.

Permethrin does not get easily absorbed into human skin. It kills adult lice and nymphs.

  • Malathion

This is a pretty drastic head lice treatment. It possesses a strong and unpleasant smell. The malathion lotion has to be applied on dry hair and left for half a day. Then it should be washed off thoroughly. Malathion can easily get on fire, so any contact with the fire during the treatment should be avoided.

It may cause such side effects as skin burning or eyes burning. So, it should be used with care, especially on kids.

All the above listed treatments for pediculosis capitis can produce great lice killing effect, if used properly. Read the instructions and follow them to the letter. And if you don’t feel like applying chemicals on your hair, you also have the option of using head lice home remedies.