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Lice - When To Call a Doctor

If you suspect lice infestation (pediculosis), you can try an over-the-counter lice medicine or visit your doctor to double-check your symptoms. Call a doctor if:

  • You have severe nighttime itching that does not go away after a few days.
  • You see live lice or new eggs (nits) after using the medicine (prescription or nonprescription).
  • You have serious side effects after using a product to treat lice.
  • You have signs of a skin infection. These may include:
    • Increased pain, swelling, heat, redness, or tenderness.
    • Red streaks extending from the affected area.
    • Discharge of pus.
    • Fever of 100°F (37.8°C) or higher with no other obvious cause.

Watchful waiting

Lice will not go away without proper treatment. Even if they don't bother you much, lice can be spread to other household members, sex partners, or other people you have close personal contact with. If you think you have lice, try an over-the-counter lice medicine or call a doctor.

Who to see

If you need help treating a lice problem, contact any of the following:

A pharmacist can answer your questions about medicines that treat lice.

To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 30, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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