Head lice are a misunderstood nuisance health problem. Early precautions may prevent outbreaks of head lice in the school.
The following is some basic information about head lice. Infestation can happen to any one, any age and either sex. It is not a sign of poor health habits or being dirty.
Head lice are tiny insects that live on the human hair. They hatch from small eggs, called nits, which are attached to the base of individual hairs. The eggs hatch in approximately seven to ten days, with new lice reaching maturity in about two weeks. The mature lice proceed to lay more eggs. Signs to look for if concerned about an infestation are: persistent scratching of the head and back of the neck, scratch marks or rash on the scalp, and nits attached to the hair.
Once head lice have been identified, the condition needs to be addressed promptly to prevent the spread to others. There are a variety of over-the-counter preparations which are effective when used according to directions (NIX and RID are two). The use of products to help remove nits from the hair have not been found to be effective.
Once the lice and nits have been removed from the hair and scalp, the problem of reinfestation may still exist unless all articles that may contain live lice or nits, such as clothes, towels, and bed linens, stuffed animals, hair decorations, are washed in HOT water and detergent and dried using the HOT cycle of the dryer (20 minutes), dry cleaned of placed in a sealed plastic bag for a period of 2-3 weeks. Combs and brushes need to be washed in a pediculocide solution. The use of spray products to treat items which cannot be washed or dry cleaned are NOT effective. Items which cannot be washed, such as carpets, car upholstery, mattresses, sofas should be vacuumed thoroughly.
If school personnel observes live lice or nits on your child’s head, you will be notified immediately and s/he will need to be picked up from school. After the initial treatment and removal of ALL nits from the hair, your child may return to school.
If you discover head lice, it is important that you notify the school so your child’s class can be checked for other cases. Parents of your child’s friends, scout groups, teams where a helmet or hat is shared, should also be notified.
Animals do not carry human head lice.