Objectives: Head louse (Pediculus capitis) is a major health challenge in many parts of the globe. Pediculosis capitis is a serious infestation related to the communities with poor hygiene. The aim of the present research was to determine some epidemiological and demographic features of human head louse in the western area of Ahvaz, Southwestern.
Methods: This descriptive-analytical cross-sectional research was done on the patients with head louse infestation who referred to the western Ahvaz Health Center during 2010- 2014. A patient was defined as being infested by the presence of nits or live lice. Data collection was done by questionnaires and physical examination of the hairs. Analysis was done by Chi-square test, using SPSS software version 18. The significance level was set at p < 0.05.
Results: Totally, 21000 children and adolescents were screened and 7148 people (%34) were infected by pediculosis. The overall prevalence of head lice infestation was 2.36 per 1000 population during the five- year period. The most prevalent rate was observed in 2014 (35.2%) and the lowest prevalence rate was observed in 2010 (11.9%). A statistical significant correlation was observed between Pediculosis capitis and age, gender, month, history of infestation and residence place (P<0.05). About 18.1% of those infested with pediculosis had a previous history of this infestation. Approximately 1.9% of the males and 98.1% of the females were infested to head lice. Pediculosis capitis infestations were highest (60.2%) in subjects aged 6-10 and lowest in those aged less than six (5%). The most prevalent rate of infestation was observed in urban areas (77.4%). The prevalence of pediculosis was higher in the winter (50.3%) than other seasons. Most of the cases were found in March (20.5%) and February (16.2%).
Conclusions: Individuals aged 6-10 years old were most often infested with pediculosis capitis, which could be due to their head to head contact and their age. Meanwhile, girls were 52.9 times more likely to have head lice infestation than boys. The educational system should clarify all of people from all families to play a more effective role to eliminate head louse infestation among populations.