Substances & Homeopatic Remedies

Pediculus capitis

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Pediculus humanus capitis



Traditional name

Italian: pidocchio del capo
English: Head Louse

German: Kopflaus

Used parts

Tincture of the insects


Animalia; Insecta (Hexapoda) - Insects; Orthopteroidea; Dermaptera; Saltatoria; Phthiraptera; Anoplura - Lice


Original proving

Mure: Braz. Provings.

Description of the substance

Lice are wingless, bloodsucking parasites, living on mammals. Bloodsucking lice on humans comprise three types:.

ped.capitis , head louse(Kopflaus) is 2-3 mm in diameter
ped. corporis , body louse(Kleiderlaus) is 3-4 mm, these two can interbreed
          Body lice are vectors of louse-borne typhus (Rickettsia prowazeki), trench-fever (Rickettsia                                              quintana) and louse-borne relapsing fever (Borrelia recurrens).
pthirus pubis , pubic louse  (Filzlaus) 1-2 mm

Pediculus capitis
Adults are flattened dorsoventrally. The short tibia has a thumb-like spine at the apex, and the short tarsus has a curved claw. Hairs of host or clothing are gripped between this spine and claw.
The mouthparts of the louse are different from those of most other bloodsucking  insects in that they do not constitute a projecting piercing proboscis. They consist of a flexible, sucking, almost tube-like mouth, which is armed with minute teeth which grip the host´s skin during feeding. Needle-like stylets are thrust into the skin and saliva is injected into the wound. Blood is sucked into the mouth and passes into the stomach for digestion.

Life cycle
Both sexes take blood meals and feeding occurs at any time during the day or night. The eggs (nits) are cemented to the hairs of the head, usually at their base, a single egg on each hair. The distance between the scalp and the furthest egg glued to a hair is often regarded as providing an approximate estimate of the duration of infestation on the basis that a human hair grows at a rate of about 0.4 mm per day. Only very occasionally are eggs laid on hairs elsewhere on the body. Most individuals harbour only 10-20 head lice, but in very severe infestations the hair may become matted with a mixture of nits, nymphs (louse which is hatched from the egg, takes a blood-meal, passes through three nymphal instars and after 7-12 days becomes an adult louse), adults and exudates from pustules resulting from bites of the lice. In such cases bacterial and fungal infections may become established and an unpleasant crust formed on parts of the head, underneath which are masses of head lice. Empty, hatched eggs remain firmly cemented to the hairs of the head. A female lays about 6-8 eggs per day, amounting to about 150-300 eggs during her life-span, which is about 1 month. Eggs hatch within 7-10 days and the duration of the nymphal stages is about 7-10 days. Away from people head lice die within 2-3 days.
Dissemination is only by close contact, such as children playing together and with their heads frequently touching, or when people are crowded together such as in prison or refugee camps. Use of other people´s hats, scarves, combs, hair-brushes, etc. has not  been proved to spread head lice. The occasional head louse found on such articles are moribund  individuals that will not be able to survive and infect someone else.

Medical importance:
Because lice feed several times a day, saliva is repeatedly injected into people harbouring lice, and toxic effects may lead to weariness and irritability, the person feels lousy.
Allergies such as severe itching may be caused by repeated inoculation of saliva, and if inhaled the faeces may produce symptoms reminiscent of hay fever.

To get rid of them you have to kill the eggs. As they are very sensitive to light, it is sufficient to cut the hair.

     Adults:  Like the adults and the young of other North American families of sucking lice, these bear a superficial resemblance to a crab when seen through a magnifying lens, owing to the strongly flattened body and the powerfully clawed, crab-like legs.  This family is our most important one, containing parasites of the horse, hog, sheep, goat, dog, and of cattle and numerous wild rodents.  All species are bloodsucking.  The eggs, or nits, are glued to the hairs of the host.
     Young:  Resembling the adults in appearance.  There are usually 3 nymphal stages; metamorphosis is incomplete.  The entire life cycles of these insects are completed upon the host animals.
     Importance:  A source of much annoyance to the hosts and sometimes numerous enough to cause serious illness and death.
     Example:  Hog Louse - Haematopinus adventicius
     Everywhere in our region on swine.  Cosmopolitan.  This is the largest of our sucking lice, approaching 1/4 inch in length.  Eggs are laid throughout the year, there being from 6 to 12 generations annually.
     The word "louse" is often applied to insects which are not true lice, such as the book louse, the plant louse (the aphid), and the bark louse (the scale insect), and the bee louse (which is a fly).  As a matter of fact, the term "louse" is often applied to animals that are not even insects, such as the wood louse (the sow bug or pill bug), and the fish louse.  In this chapter we shall concern ourselves only with the true "blood-sucking" lice in this Order (Anoplura)-the lice that are parasitic on mammals-because they are the ones that may affect human beings.

     Lice are small insects, somewhat flattened in form, and like the fleas are blood-sucking parasites that do not at any time possess wings.  Their mouthparts are also of the piercing-sucking type.  When the beak of a louse is not in use it is completely withdrawn into the head so that all one can usually see externally, through a microscope, is a fringe of minute teeth at the foremost part of the head.  Lice have developed strong claws, situated at the end of the last joint of each of their six legs, which clasp hairs firmly, thus enabling them to maintain a hold on active animals.  These claws are also used to hold on to seams of clothing usually the inside seams, in order to take advantage of human body warmth.
     The female louse "cements" her eggs, commonly called "nits," to the innerseams of woolen clothing and to the hairs of man or other mammals.  One female may lay an average of ten eggs a day for a period of from twenty to thirty days.  The young become active as soon as they hatch, proceeding to suck blood with their unique mouthparts.  The young resemble the adults in shape and form from the moment they hatch.

     Lice are highly specialized insects normally found on their preferred animal hosts.  In other words, animal lice will usually be found only on certain animal hosts, while human body lice prefer and are invariably found on human beings.  Lice are also very sensitive to what has been aptly called the climatic condition of the skin-its temperature and humidity-and prefer a temperature slightly lower than that of the body, which they ordinarily find by clinging to seams of clothing next to the body or to the hairs of mammals.  If the body has a high fever, or if the body cools, as when death takes place, the lice will leave and seek another host.

     The species of lice infesting man are considered to be three in number-the head louse, the body louse, and the pubic or "crab" louse.  They vary in color from white to brown.  When young and recently fed, the blood meal can be seen through the skin and they appear to be bright red.  In soldier vocabulary they are then known as "red backs."  As digestion takes place the blood becomes darker.  They are then often called "black backs" or  "gray backs."  Because of these changes in coloration the same lice are often mistaken for different species.  In soldier's slang in World War I all body lice were known as "cooties," but World War II made that term obsolete-the modern version is "motorized dandruff!"

     Body lice and head lice can transfer from one person to another upon contact, and sitting next to an infested person in a train is a close enough contact for this transfer to take place.  Normally, lice are rather slow-moving insects, but they are capable of moving with sufficient speed to give weight to the old saying: "You can't catch a louse with one finger."

sm. [sec. XIV; lat. tardo peduc(u)lus, dim. di pedis, pidocchio].

1) Nome con cui vengono com. indicati gli Insetti appartenenti agli ord. Mallofagi e Anopluri. Per estens., ogni parassita del pellame e del piumaggio degli animali.
2) Fig., p. rifatto, persona arricchita che ostenta con superbia la propria ricchezza.

Il p. umano (Pediculus humanus), insetto anopluro della fam. Pediculidi, infesta l'uomo con due diverse forme che prendono il nome dalle loro sedi di elezione:
∑ il p. del capo (Pediculus humanus capitis), lungo da 2 a 3 mm e di colore bruno, si rinviene tra i capelli e nelle altre regioni del corpo ricoperte di peli, mentre il p. dei vestiti (Pediculus humanus corporis), lungo da 3 a 4 mm e di colore chiaro, vive anche tra gli abiti. Entrambe le forme si nutrono del sangue dell'ospite, determinando con le loro punture un forte prurito che induce la persona a grattarsi vigorosamente, dando luogo a lesioni cutanee spesso complicate da infezioni batteriche. Temibilissimo è il ruolo del p. umano quale vettore di gravi malattie, in particolare il tifo esantematico, la febbre ricorrente, la peste. Le uova di questi insetti, solitamente accollate ai peli o ai tessuti, prendono il nome di lendini.
∑ Il p. del pube (Phthyrius pubis), lungo ca. 2 mm, detto anche piattone o piattola, si insedia invece nei peli del pube, pur potendosi talora rinvenire in corrispondenza di altre regioni ricoperte di peli, comprese le ciglia e le sopracciglia.

Il termine di p. pollino viene usato per designare in generale gli Insetti dell'ord. Mallofagi; in partic. esso si riferisce alla sp. Menopon gallinae, della fam. Menoponidi, assai comune sui polli; al medesimo ordine appartiene il p. dell'elefante (Haematomyzus elephantis) della fam. Ematomizidi, caratterizzato da un apparato boccale di tipo masticatore-succhiatore, che parassita elefanti e rinoceronti.
Sono noti col nome di p. anche altri insetti: il p. delle api (Braula coeca) è un dittero della fam. Braulidi; piccolissimo, privo di ali, peloso, con corpo depresso e zampe lunghe e robuste, vive come parassita sulle api; il p. sanguigno del melo (Eriosoma lanigerum) è un insetto emittero della fam. Afididi che, originario del continente americano, si è diffuso in tutto il mondo, danneggiando gravemente le colture di meli.