Woman Hospitalised Due To Severe Iron Deficiency Possibly Caused By Head Lice, Report States

A woman was hospitalised due to severe iron deficiency, which she may have developed from having a head lice infestation, according to an article published in The British Medical Journal (BMJ).

The 23-year-old woman was admitted to the emergency department with chest discomfort, palpitations, light-headedness and general fatigue.

Blood tests revealed she was suffering from severe iron deficiency with a very low haemoglobin level of 2.2 g/L.

A physical examination revealed she had a heavy and chronic head lice infestation, as well as scratch marks on her scalp.

Although no definite relationship has been proved between head lice infestation and iron deficiency, several case reports have linked iron deficiency in patients with heavy lice infestation in the absence of other causes, the latest report states.

The doctors could not find an underlying health reason for why the woman would be anaemic.

In the BMJ report, the doctors noted previous case reports of severe iron deficiency in patients who were homeless, with limited access to hygiene and heavy lice infestations.

The woman featured in the case study had poor hygiene due to depression.

Thankfully the doctors were able to help the woman's anaemia and she was soon discharged.

They gave her two units of packed red blood cells and her haemoglobin level increased. She was also provided with insect repellent, head lice shampoo and intravenous iron therapy for anaemia.

The latest edition of BMJ Case Reports also includes one story of a trained herbalist who accidentally overdosed on "herbal medicine" and another case study of a four-year-old boy who swallowed a hair pin which then pierced his right kidney.

Commenting on the latter, the authors wrote: "It is common for children to swallow small objects and these usually pass harmlessly through the gastrointestinal tract.

"Coins and bones are the most commonly ingested and complications are rare, for example, in this case."


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