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Lice and Pinworm

 –  Parasitic infections like lice and pinworms can be embarrassing, but you don't need to feel ashamed if you or someone in your family has contracted one. These conditions are incredibly common because they are so contagious, but it's important that you take action fast to stop the spread of lice or pinworms. At drugstore.com, we make it easy to respond quickly to lice and pinworm infections with an assortment of treatments that can be used at home to fight the parasites.
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How Do Lice Spread?

Lice are small parasites that live on the scalp and feed off of blood. The small parasites can be spread from person to person via head-to-head contact or on bed linens, clothing and items like combs and brushes. Once present on the scalp, a louse may lay eggs called nits that can hatch and give rise to a new generation of lice. A medical doctor or health care provider can typically spot the presence of lice or nits by sight alone and can recommend the right treatments to help you clear up the infection.

How to Treat Lice

Typically, lice infections can be treated with over-the-counter products, and usually, doctors will recommend a two-step treatment approach. First, a product must be used to kill any lice that are already living on the scalp. This can be done with a liquid, a spray, a gel or a shampoo that contains a pesticide capable of killing lice, such as permethrin. In addition, doctors will typically instruct you to use a special tool called a nit comb to remove any eggs that are stuck to your hair or scalp. Your doctor will likely provide you with instructions on how to clean your home to prevent the spread of lice. There are lice control sprays and cleaning products available to assist you.

What Are Pinworms?

Pinworms (Enterobius) are completely unrelated to lice, but they are just as common of a problem. These tiny worms live inside of the digestive tract. The females move to the anal area and lay eggs, causing intense itching. When an infected person scratches, the eggs can get stuck to his or her fingers and then be spread to someone else through skin to skin contact or by contaminating household objects. To diagnose a pinworm infection, a doctor may recommend a tape test to look for pinworms or its eggs.

How to Treat Pinworms

Infections from pinworms are usually treated with an over-the-counter medicine that is taken by mouth. The products usually contain pyrantel pamoate, a medication that kills adult worms. Because children are especially at risk for pinworm infections, most formulas come in liquid form for easy dispensing. Pinworm medications only kill the adult worms, so it's important to take care not to scratch the anal area during treatment. Doctors typically recommend a second course of the drug two weeks later to kill adults that hatch from eggs after the first treatment to completely clear up the infection.

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