Lice: the advice of the specialist doctor

Interview with Dr Arezki Izri who is a specialist doctor, parasitologist, university lecturer and hospital practitioner at AP-HP (Assistance Publique - Hôpitaux de Paris).

If you had one advice, one to give, what would it be?

Do not be selfish! Lice, it's not an individual affair, it's a collective affair. Lice love communities, we know. They are found in populations with strong promiscuity. It is therefore collectively that we must fight them. When a child is infested, do not hide it. I know that some parents are sometimes embarrassed to say that their child has lice, as if their hygiene was in question.

And regarding hygiene, what advice do you give to fight against lice?

Hygiene has nothing to do with the transmission of lice. We can wash the hair of his child every day, give him all the baths of the world, in the most gleaming bathrooms, it will not change anything. It is enough for the child to approach his head with another infested child for the outbreak to start.

So, the first rule is a civic rule: when his child is affected, it must be reported to the school. It should also be monitored regularly, check that there are no nits, and treat it right away. And above all, I insist on it, say it around you. This is the only good prevention.

Lice is embarrassing, but not dangerous. Can a pediculosis be complicated?

Rarely. Obviously, the itching caused by the bite of the lice can cause scratching lesions that can be infected. As long as the infecting germ is a streptococcus, it can lead to rheumatoid arthritis. But it's extremely rare!

What is more common is psychological disorders. Infested children are more agitated. They are embarrassed by the itching, they sleep poorly and are tired. This can lead to school problems.

But again, it is rare that we come to this stage. On the other hand, what often happens is that the infested child or adult lives it very badly.

Having lice is still associated with "being dirty". This causes a feeling of shame very badly lived in some people. Hence the desire to hide the pathology to those around him. Which is the worst thing to do, because it is from there that a whole epidemic can be born.

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