Relationship between head lice infestation and hair grooming practices in primary school children in Port Harcourt
Background: Hair grooming practices and hair characteristics are some of the host related risk factors for head lice infestation. Certain hair grooming
practices and characteristics have been reported to affect head lice infestation.
Objective: To determine the relationship between head lice infestation
and hair grooming practices in Primary school children in Port Harcourt.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted, using a stratified multi-staged sampling technique. A total of 1350 pupils from thirteen primary schools located in three School Districts were recruited. Data was collected using a proforma completed by parents /guardians. The heads of the pupils were inspected for head lice and nits with the aid of a battery operated Robi lice comb, magnifying glass and a torch as light source. Results: Ten (0.7%) of the 1350 pupils had head lice infestation, all of whom were females. Seven (2.5%) of the 276 pupils with long hair (hair length greater than 5cm) had a significantly higher prevalence of head lice infestation, compared to 3 (0.3%) of the 1074 pupils with short hair (p < 0.001). Head lice infestation significantly increased with a reducing frequency of hair wash from 3 (0.3%) in those that washed daily to 1
(1.5%) in those that washed monthly (p = 0.034) but was not significantly associated with the use of chemicals to straighten hair. Head lice infestation significantly increased with reducing social class from 0 (0%) in social class I to 3 (9.1%) in social class V (p < 0.001).
Conclusion: A higher prevalence of head lice infestation is significantly associated with longer hair and reduced frequency of hair wash.
Key words: Head lice, Hair grooming, School children