Dr. Mersch received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego, and prior to entering the University Of Southern California School Of Medicine, was a graduate student (attaining PhD candidate status) in Experimental Pathology at USC. He attended internship and residency at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Lice infestation on the human body (also known as pediculosis) is very common. Cases number in the hundreds of millions worldwide. While lice can occasionally cause significant illness (typhus, relapsing fever, and trench fever), a lice infestation is generally more of an itchy and embarrassing experience than a serious medical problem. Three distinct presentations of lice infection exist and each is caused by a unique parasite.
Head lice (Pediculus humanus capitis) is by far and away the most common infestation and favors no particular socioeconomic group. A genetically close "cousin,"
Pediculus humanus corporis, is responsible for body lice and is more commonly associated with poverty, overcrowding, and poor hygiene. Pubic lice ("crabs") is caused by
Pthirus pubis and is transmitted by intimate and/or sexual contact.
Lice infestation is a uniquely human experience. Lice do not jump or fly from
host to host. They cannot be transmitted via animals but may be transferred by
person to person via direct contact and by fomites (inanimate objects -- for example, caps,
combs, sheets, etc).
Itching may continue even after all lice are destroyed. This happens because of a lingering allergic reactionto their bites. Over-the-counter cortisone(corticosteroid) creams or calamine lotion may help. For severe itching, antihistaminemedicines (such as Benadryl) or stronger, prescription-strength corticosteroid creams may be needed. Don't give antihistamines to your child unless you've checked with the doctor first. And don't use cortisone cream for longer than 7 days without talking with your doctor. Do not use the cream on children younger than age 2 unless your doctor tells you to. And don't use it in the rectal or vaginal area in children younger than age 12 unless you've checked with the doctor first.