Survey assessment of parental perceptions regarding head lice

Int J Dermatol. 2008 Mar;47(3):249-55. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-4632.2008.03570.x.


Background: Head lice constitute a problem in children. Each year, numerous cases of pediculosis occur worldwide. Little work has been performed to evaluate the understanding, opinions, and actions of populations regarding head lice. These areas are important as they enable clinicians and educators to alert parents on how to avoid treatments that are innocuous or of high risk to patients.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was performed by interviewing the heads of households of 100 randomly chosen residences within the study area.

Results: The results obtained showed that 13% were infested during the first week of the survey, and 86% in the 24 weeks prior to the study. The number of positive cases increased with increasing resident number, and decreased in families with parents with a higher educational level. Itching was the principal clinical manifestation and caused sleep compromise in 65% of respondents. Innocuous and unhealthy practices to combat infestation, such as the use of inflammables and home insecticides, were common.

Conclusion: The results showed that certain beliefs generated worry and confusion in parents, who blamed head lice as the cause of various health problems which were not due to this insect.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Brazil / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Lice Infestations / complications
  • Lice Infestations / epidemiology
  • Lice Infestations / psychology*
  • Lice Infestations / therapy
  • Male
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Pediculus*
  • Scalp Dermatoses / complications
  • Scalp Dermatoses / epidemiology
  • Scalp Dermatoses / psychology*
  • Scalp Dermatoses / therapy
  • Self Care / methods*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires