September 2017 Proactive Suggestions for Head Lice
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:
- Child’s parent/guardian will be notified.
- Instructions for treatment for live lice and viable nits will be provided to the parent/guardian.
- The student can be rechecked by the school nurse at her discretion.
- Further information on head lice may be found on the district health website and the school nurses webpage.
WHAT TO D0 IF YOU DISCOVER LICE OR THEIR EGGS:
1. Please contact your doctor for the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) current recommendation on the medicated treatment that is required on day 1 and on day 7. Please follow the instructions thoroughly. (Some treatments are to be applied to dry hair, and some need to be applied to wet hair). The treatment must be repeated after one week. Please read and follow ALL label directions.
2. Please contact the school nurse if you think your child has lice, so that the problem can be monitored in the school. We are ready to help you with teaching, assistance with screening head checks, educational materials.
3. The nits (eggs) MUST be removed by hand, otherwise, they will remain on the hair, and will hatch,
causing a continuation of the problem, and causing you to begin all measures aver again. If you have
an active case of lice, you must check your child’s head every day, for three to four weeks.
4. Use a strong light, directed on your child’s head while checking and removing nits. Again, hand
removal is the MOST effective method of removing nits. The medicated shampoos do not kill nits.
5. Once head lice enter a home, they can move from one person to another, through close direct contact and use of shared items. Therefore, as soon as one family member is known to have lice, it becomes essential to do each of the following;
- Inspect all members of the family daily for 3-4 weeks, and proceed with treatment when other family members are found to have them.
- Wash and change linens daily, and wash and change the child’s clothing daily. Wash in HOT water, and then place items in the dryer on HOT setting for one hour. Follow this measure for anything that comes in contact with your child’s head. Completely change undergarments, clothing, nightwear and bedding every day.
- For any stuffed animal or clothing which may be ruined by a hot wash and dryer for an hour, you may place these items in a plastic bag, and seal it for 3 weeks.
- Sterilize combs and brushes in boiling water.
- Vacuum furniture-front and back. Vacuum mattress seams, and the area around the child’s bed. Vacuum the car seats and upholstery. Vacuum the family area where your child sits.
CAN IT HAPPEN AGAIN?
Unfortunately, there is no immunity from head lice. And, if a thorough job is not done in removing all eggs, a new crop of lice will hatch, and the problem will be ongoing. If lice are in your household, please remember to:
a) Follow through with above measures.
b) Remind children not to borrow any item which may have come in contact with another person’s head or clothing (comb, brush, hair scrunchy, hair band, hat, cap, scarf, clothing, coat, etc).
c) Regularly inspect all family members, adults and children, for any new
infestation, and treat as directed.
PRECAUTIONS WE ARE TAKING AT SCHOOL:
Our staff has been alerted to the task of educating the children about lice and discussing the situation with them. Your assistance in routine inspections at home, and in notification of the school nurse, are important.
The parent of a child found to have lice will be notified so that treatment can begin. The school nurse will also offer follow up checks on affected students.
Thank you for taking the time to read through this important material. Your assistance and understanding are much appreciated. If you have any questions, you are welcome to call the Health Office.