Attitudes Towards Pediculosis Treatments in Teenagers

Deon V. Canyon*, Chauncey Canyon, Sami Milani, Rick Speare
Office of Public Health Studies, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 1960 East-West Rd, Biomed Building #T103, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA

© Canyon et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Office of Public Health Studies, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 1960 East-West Rd, Biomed Building #T103, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA; Tel: (808) 956-6263; E-mail:


Research on pediculosis has focused on treatment strategies and social aspects have been largely ignored. Pediculosis and its treatment in are associated with negative emotional responses while in developing countries pediculosis and its treatment may provide more an opportunity for positive social bonding. Attitudes to pediculosis have been proposed as important to successful control. Previous studies in Australia found that parents of primary school children say they treat pediculosis once it has been detected.

This study retrospectively investigated attitudes towards treatment in teenage high school students in an attempt to collect information from those afflicted rather than from parents. Only participants with a history of pediculosis were recruited from a high school in Western Australia and they were asked to complete an anonymous questionnaire. The sample contained 128 Grade 8 and 9 students, aged 13-15 years old with an even gender split. Negative feelings towards being treated for head lice were observed in 41.5% of males and 54.7% of females and 49.5% of Caucasians and 40% of Asians. Anti-treatment sentiment was expressed by 19.7% of males and 10.9% of females. Shampooing with and without combing were the most preferred treatments overall.

The results showed that 63.6% male and 52.7% female high school students were in favour of head lice treatments. This low percentage indicates that current treatments for head lice require improvement to be made more acceptable and that alternative treatments that are less unpleasant need to be developed. Strategies need to be explored to make treatment of pediculosis a more positive emotional experience.

Keywords: Combing, feelings, hair thickness, head lice, treatment.