Head Lice (Pediculosis) Information
It is the position of the National Association of School Nurses that the management of pediculosis (infestation by head lice) should not disrupt the educational process. No disease is associated with head lice, and in-school transmission is considered to be rare. When transmission occurs, it is generally found among younger-age children with increased head-to-head contact (Frankowski & Bocchini, 2010).
Head lice screening programs have not had a significant effect on the incidence of head lice in the school setting over time and have not proven to be cost effective (Frankowski & Bocchini, 2010). Research data does not support immediate exclusion upon the identification of the presence of live lice or nits as an effective means of controlling pediculosis transmission. By the time a child with an active head lice infestation has been identified, he or she may have had the infestation for one month or more and, therefore, poses little additional risk of transmission to others (Frankowski & Bocchini, 2010). The school nurse is in a position to take the lead in eliminating school exclusion policies and, instead, incorporate evidence-based practices that reduce the stigma associated with head lice, and work to increase classroom time with an emphasis on keeping students in school (Gordon, 2007).
Whenever head lice are detected, the following procedures shall be followed:
1. Child’s parent/guardian will be notified.
2. Instructions for treatment for live lice and viable nits will be provided to the parent/guardian.
3. Following proper treatment, the child will be brought to school by the parent prior to the start of the school day for reexamination.
4. The student will be rechecked by the school nurse at her discretion.
5. If active cases continue in the classroom or school, more extensive measures may occur.
6. Further information on head lice may be found on the district health website and the school nurses webpage.
Nobody really wants to talk or read about lice, but any one of us may at some time be faced with treating the condition. To do that, we must learn about it. The more we know, the easier it is to deal with and the less fear we have of it.
Lice respect no one and no one is immune from them, no matter how clean. Head lice are a particular problem among young school children who play together and exchange articles of clothing, combs, brushes, etc. No part of the country is free of them. With proper information, the CAN be controlled.
This letter has been prepared to provide you with the basis information you need to identify and control head lice.
FACTS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT LICE:
- Lice are small grayish-white, wingless bugs about the size of tiny ants. Head lice are found on, and feed off the head.
- Lice can live upwards of 48 hours off of the body.
- Lice lay tiny oval, white nits (eggs) – not to be confused with dandruff which is flaky, or droplets of hair spray. Head lice attach each egg to a hair shaft with a gluey substance. Nits are waterproof, and will not come out with combing or brushing. THEY MUST BE REMOVED BY PULLING.
- Lice are transmitted from one person to another on combs, coats, caps, scarves and upholstered seats. If a child brings them home, other family members may get them.
- The first sign of lice may be intense itching. The lice or eggs may be seen. Bite marks often appear. Skin irritation and/or infection may occur as the result of repeated itching. If this happens you should see your physician.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU DISCOVER LICE OR THEIR EGGS:
- Contact your doctor or pharmacist for the suggested medicated shampoos that are available. PLEASE FOLLOW ALL INSTRUCTIONS THOROUGHLY.
- PLEASE CONTACT THE SCHOOL NURSE IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOUR CHILD HAS LICE OR NITS SO THAT THE PROBLEM CAN BE MONITORED AT SCHOOL.
- Remove nits after shampooing, otherwise they will remain on the hair. You will want to remove the nits so you can continue to check your child for a repeat occurrence. It is necessary that all nits be removed, since they are not all killed after the first shampoo, and could start a re-infestation before the second treatment is given.
- Use a strong light directed on your child’s head while removing nits. Picking them off by hand is the most effective method of removing them.
- Once head lice enter a home, they can move easily from one person to another. Therefore, as soon as one family member is known to have lice, it becomes essential to:
- Inspect everyone daily for at least two weeks and proceed as advised.
- Wash in hot water or dry clean all clothing, bedding, etc. coming in contact with your child’s head. Use dryer at high heat.
- Sterilize all combs and brushes or replace. (Use shampoo prescribed).
- Vacuum backs of furniture, car seats and mattress seams.
CAN IT HAPPEN AGAIN?
Unfortunately, yes. There is no immunity from lice. So if you get rid of them once and don’t want them to come back:
- Completely change undergarments, clothes and nightwear daily.
- Tell children not to use another person’s comb or brush or wear another person’s clothing.
- Regularly inspect all family members, adults and children, for any new lice infestation. If it shows up, treat the person thoroughly and check the other family members again.
PRECAUTIONS WE TAKE AT SCHOOL:
- Our staff has been alerted to the task of educating the children about lice and discussing the situation with them.
- Head lice screenings will be conducted as needed by the school nurse. Any child found to have lice or their eggs will be referred for treatment. Re-admittance to school requires inspection by the school nurse. Parents must personally bring the child to school for inspection.
Thank you for your cooperation and understanding. Feel free to contact your school nurse if you have any questions.