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Lice treatment, diagnosis & prescriptions

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Can I talk to a doctor on Maple about lice?

Yes, you can. The healthcare practitioner will probably want to schedule a physical exam to look for symptoms or signs of lice.

Before offering a lice diagnosis, the healthcare provider may also use a special light to check for lice eggs, also called nits. Once they’ve confirmed the lice diagnosis, the healthcare practitioner will be able to suggest lice treatment options, depending on the area of infestation.

Can I get a prescription on Maple?

Yes, you can. Physicians on Maple can prescribe lice medications online during your consultation. Once you accept a prescription for lice, you’ll have the option to pick it up from any pharmacy conveniently located to you or to have it delivered right to your door at no additional cost.

You can visit our How it Works page to learn more.

What are lice?

Lice is the name for tiny parasitic insects that feed on human blood. They are wingless and cannot fly or jump but are known to spread through direct contact.

This is the reason that lice are often found in schoolchildren and cramped living areas, where close personal contact and the sharing of belongings occur.

There are three types of lice and the parts of the body they’ve infested. These include:

  • Head lice
  • Body lice
  • Pubic lice (often referred to as “crabs”)
What are the symptoms of lice?

The most common symptoms and signs of lice include:

  • Intense itchiness (around the area of infestation)
  • Nits on hair shafts
  • Bite marks (especially in the pelvic region)
  • Finding lice on the scalp, body, in hair, or on clothing
  • Ticklish feelings (caused by movement of lice through the hair)
  • Sores on the shoulders, neck or scalp
What causes lice?

Contrary to popular belief, poor hygiene doesn’t cause lice. You can have very good hygiene and still contract lice.

Lice is caused by coming into direct contact with living lice or nits (lice eggs).

There are a number of situations that cause lice to spread. Some of these include:

  • Contact with contaminated furniture or surfaces
  • Sharing items with family and friends
  • Storing items in close proximity (allowing lice to transfer between them)
  • Direct head-to-head or body-to-body contact
  • Sexual contact
How are lice diagnosed?

The healthcare practitioner will be able to provide a lice diagnosis by evaluating your condition, and performing a physical examination to check for signs of lice. They may also employ a “Wood’s light,” which makes spotting nits easier by turning them to appear pale blue under the light.

For head lice, the healthcare provider will look for live lice or nits that are located within ¼ inch of your scalp.

Body lice can be diagnosed if nits or living lice are found on bedding or in the seams of clothing.

Pubic lice are diagnosed by looking for crawling lice in pubic hair or other areas of the body with coarse hair. This could include the chest, facial hair, eyebrows or eyelashes.

How are lice treated?

Lice treatments must be managed with great attention to detail to avoid lice recurring from unhatched eggs.

The lifespan of a female louse is about one month. Eggs take 8 days to hatch and another 8 days to mature enough to begin laying their own eggs. Once they reach this point, they can each lay between 7-10 eggs per day. They can also survive up to 55 hours without a host (on clothing, bedding, etc.). When these facts are considered, it’s easy to see how a few overlooked lice can quickly cause a full recurrence.

Depending on the situation, the healthcare practitioner may suggest over-the-counter products for head lice. However, in some cases, they could recommend prescription lice medications such as oral or topical drugs or lice treatments.

For young children or people who would prefer alternatives to prescription lice medications, the healthcare practitioner may suggest the ‘wet combing method’ for removing nits and lice.

Body lice treatments involve bathing and then applying a medication called permethrin to the affected areas before going to sleep. The medication must be washed off in the morning, and this lice treatment typically lasts for around nine days.

Like head lice, pubic lice require many of the same lice treatments. This includes the doctor possibly suggesting prescription medications for lice.

Additionally, doing a thorough cleaning of living spaces (furniture, clothes, frequently touched surfaces, etc.) is absolutely necessary for treating lice. Otherwise, hidden unhatched eggs can allow lice to reappear.

If the healthcare provider can’t find living lice but finds nits further than ¼ inch from your scalp, it could mean the original infestation has passed. However, the healthcare provider will still make suggestions for removing the existing nits to prevent lice from recurring.

When to see a doctor for lice?

If you believe that you or your child could have a lice infestation, it’s a good idea to talk to a healthcare provider right away.

Lice won’t go away on their own, even if lice symptoms lessen or disappear for a while. This is because lice eggs that are left behind from one instance can hatch and cause a total recurrence. If they reappear, any precautions or treatments will have to be repeated entirely to stop the cycle.

In some cases, you may also require prescription lice medications to treat the condition. The healthcare practitioner will know what the best course of action will be for your particular situation.

What is Maple?

With Maple, you can start talking to a healthcare practitioner about your symptoms in a matter of minutes. We’re a healthcare app for fast, convenient 24/7 access to Canadian doctors.

Simply log in, tap a button to request a consultation, and we’ll immediately connect you to a healthcare provider via live chat or video. Visit our How it Works page to learn more.

Our healthcare team can assess symptoms, and provide treatment, including prescriptions online as necessary.

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