Many Parents Misinformed About Head Lice Treatments

A new poll shows that many parents may be misinformed about head lice, its transmission, and the best ways to treat it. The Harris poll was released in the wake of the suggestion, by a head lice removal specialist, that "selfies," photos kids and teens often take of themselves with their heads pressed together, can transmit lice from one person to another.

The poll found that a majority of American moms, even those who had personal experience with head lice, hold incorrect beliefs about how head lice is actually spread and treated. Some of the findings:

  • 92 percent of the mothers surveyed mistakenly believe head lice are most commonly spread from hats, combs or other personal items. Lice is actually spread from direct contact with infested hair.
  • 55 percent believe that treating lice requires multiple applications of a treatment (it usually does not).
  • Only 17 percent of moms say they consult their doctors for advice on how to treat head lice.
  • Moms who use prescription lice treatments were more likely (91 percent) to report being satisfied with the method than those who used over-the-counter treatments (79 percent).

The conversation about lice made another appearance in pop culture Wednesday night in an episode of the sitcom "Modern Family," in which a girl with head lice spreads it by having head-to-head contact.

For more on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of head lice, consult's head lice resource page.

Image: Mom looking for head lice, via Shutterstock

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