Pediculosis capitis (also known as head lice infestation, "nits" and cooties) is a human medical condition caused by the colonization of the hair and skin by the parasitic insect Pediculus humanus capitis—the head louse]citation needed[. Typically, only the head or scalp of the host is infested. Head lice feed on human blood (hematophagy), and itching from lice bites is a common symptom of this condition. Treatment typically includes application of topical insecticides such as a pyrethrin or permethrin, although a variety of herbal remedies are also common.
Lice infestation in general is known as pediculosis, and occurs in many mammalian and bird species. The term pediculosis capitis, or simply "pediculosis", is sometimes used to refer to the specific human pediculosis due to P. humanus capitis (i.e., head-louse infestation)]citation needed[. Humans are hosts for two other lice as well — the body louse and the crab louse.
Pediculus capitis (De Geer, 1767)
The head louse (Pediculus humanus capitis) is an obligate ectoparasite of humans. Head lice are wingless insects spending their entire life on the human scalp and feeding exclusively on human blood. Humans are the only known hosts of this specific parasite, while chimpanzees host a closely related species, Pediculus schaeffi. Other species of lice infest most orders of mammals and all orders of birds.