As we begin this school year, Health Services would like to remind parents to periodically check their children for head lice. Head lice are not uncommon in school settings, but some studies have shown that lice are NOT highly transferable in the school setting. Below is helpful information to learn about head lice:
What to look for:
Itching of the scalp that does not go away
Small whitish eggs (nits) attached to individual hairs that are difficult or impossible to remove. Be careful not to confuse the nits with dandruff or hair spray droplets that can be brushed off the hair.Tiny brownish bugs (lice) that are usually found close to the scalp, which are flat in shape, measure 1/10 to 1/8 inch in length and have short, thick legs. The bugs can move quickly, but do not jump or fly.
How head lice are spread:
By direct head to head contact with a person who has live head lice; not from the nits.
By sharing personal items such as combs, brushes, hair accessories, hats, scarves, jackets, sweaters, towels, sheets, pillowcases, blankets, etc
How a case of head lice is treated:
By using over the counter and prescription rinses and shampoos. There are also many home-based "suffocation" remedies.
Removal of all nits. This is very important and you should inspect your child's hair everyday for 1-2 weeks to ensure that all nits are removed.
It is necessary to repeat the treatment in 7-10 days.
How to attend to the environment:
Wash or dry clean all recently worn clothes and bed linens. Remember to include hats, scarves, gloves, mittens and hair accessories.
Whenever possible, place items in a clothes dryer at high heat for 20 minutes.
Clean combs and brushes by soaking in hot water (130 degrees), soapy water and lice control product solution for 10 minutes, then scrubbing with an old toothbrush.
Vacuum rugs, upholstered furniture, mattresses, car seats and cars.
Check all household members/contacts, but only treat them if they have lice. Do not treat as a precaution.
Pets are NOT carriers of head lice.
While the majority of children will never encounter head lice, and head lice do not transmit disease, head lice continue to cause anxiety in parents of school-aged children. A growing body of research challenges past practices that are now known to be ineffective. Despite the new research, LSH has been sensitive to the anxiety that parents encounter and has not changed the procedure for dealing with head lice. While school personnel will continue to investigate and check children as needed, parents have the primary role. Please review the information:
A child will be checked as needed or as referred by a teacher.
If head lice or nits are found on a child at school
The parent/guardian will be contacted
Children will be sent home to treat
Siblings or close contacts in the classroom will be checked as referred by the classroom teacher.
Preserving the confidentiality of each student/family is mandated. Classroom or school-wide screening is currently discouraged. Screening for nits alone is not an accurate way of predicting which children are or will be infested, and screening for live lice has not been proven to have significant effect on the incidence of head lice in a school community over time. School screenings cannot take the place of more careful parental checks. It is the parent's responsibility, as with other conditions, to be aware of their child's needs and seek the necessary care. If information or resources are needed, please contact school health services or your family care provider.