Introduction and objective:
Nurses are a group of healthcare professionals particularly vulnerable to infestations by Pediculus humanus capitis and Sarcoptes scabiei var. hominis contracted from patients under their medical care.

Material and methods:
The cross-sectional study included 322 professionally active nurses within public healthcare units in eastern Poland. The research tool was a questionnaire collecting anonymized data on the occurrence of pediculosis capitis and scabies in nurses, and their patients, concerning the environmental determinants in the period 2001–2013. The study was retrospective and participation of nurses was voluntary.

The obtained results indicated that 24.8% and 9.9% of the 322 respondents were infested by head lice and scabies mites, respectively. During their professional work, most nurses contracted head lice once (76.2%) while others (23.8%) were infested twice or more. The respondents did not declare repeated occupational scabies. The risk of contracting pediculosis capitis and scabies was not related to the length of service, but increased with the rise in the number of patients provided with nursing care. In the head lice-infested patients, the majority were aged 6–10 years (31.3%), while in the case of scabietic patients, children aged 0–5 years prevailed (26.4%).

In medical care facilities, regular hygienic checks of both patients and medical staff, covering the condition of the skin and scalp, should be mandatory. The spread of pediculosis capitis and scabies among nurses can be reduced by the implementation not only of protective procedures mitigating occupational risk, but also the improvement of working conditions in medical facilities.

The authors would like to thank all the nurses who devoted their time and attention to contributing to this study. Their commitment and belief that this research is relevant from their perspective motivated us to share the results with a broader audience.
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