Knowledge, attitudes and practices regarding head lice infestations in rural Nigeria
Introduction: Head lice infestations are common in sub-Saharan Africa, but knowledge, attitudes and practices have never been studied in this region.
Methodology: This population-based study was conducted in a small rural community (population = 590) in Kwara State, Central Nigeria. Inhabitants of the community were interviewed regarding head lice infestations, using a pre-tested structured questionnaire, and examined regarding the presence of active pediculosis.
Results: Of the 496 participants included, 367 (74.0%) had experienced head lice infestations, but only 26 (11.1%) of the individuals older than 15 years knew the correct mode of transmission. Of 142 individuals with active pediculosis, only 1 (0.7%) felt ashamed. Treatment was most commonly done by grooming (46.3%), followed by combing (27.2%). Only 4.6% used pediculicides, and 21.8% did not apply any treatment. Opinions about difficulties in controlling head lice were asked in three groups: biological, technical and social. In the first group, the most common difficulty noted was detecting head lice (52.1%), followed by possible resistance that would lengthen the time of infestation (38.9%). Technical constraints included concerns on the safety and effectiveness of products (48.7%) and difficulties in obtaining treatment (46.2%). Social contraints included difficulty in treating children (24.4%), lack of knowledge (23.5%), and the social behavior of children (22.2%).
Conclusions: Head lice were not perceived as an important disease in a rural Nigerian community, and feelings about the infestation were mostly indifferent. Despite its common occurrence, knowledge on head lice was limited.