If your student has head lice, the first thing to keep in mind is DON'T PANIC. Though bothersome, head lice will not harm children and adults, nor cause illness. Having head lice does not mean a person is unclean or the environment is dirty. Head lice are almost always transmitted from one person to another by head-to-head contact. It is extremely rare for head lice to be transmitted in the school setting, and most often are transmitted during sleep-overs or sporting events.
Parents are encouraged to check their children weekly for the presence of nits and/or lice. Our district policy is that children with live lice will be excluded from school and school events until treatment. Examine your child’s head and everyone else in the household for lice and nits. Start examining the head by beginning around the ears and at the nape of the neck and then the rest of the head. If your child does have lice, begin treatment.
Head lice are tiny insects that live only on the human head. Lice hatch from eggs, otherwise known as nits. Nit color ranges between white to brown. Nits are typically found around the ears and along the nape of the neck within ¼ inch of the scalp. Nits will hatch after seven to ten days. Once hatched, the nits are known as nymphs and within ten days, become adults. Nymphs and adult lice can be found on the head and feed on human blood to live. Live lice cannot live more than 48 hours without a feeding source.
When adult lice are found, it is likely that there has been an active infestation for 10-14 days. There may be no symptoms, or symptoms may be scratching of the head and reddened areas on the scalp.
Treatment consists of over the counter lice products and cleaning the environment. Recent studies have found that Pyrethrin based hair products are about 60-70% effective in the killing of lice. This is because of overtreatment or treating people who do not have lice. Cetaphil lotion® has been shown to be 97%effective in killing live lice. Start by saturating the hair from root to tip. Blow the hair dry and let it set for 8 hours. Shampoo with regular shampoo and remove nits. Daily removal of nits may be necessary for 8-10 days after treatment.
All fabric items in the household should be vacuumed, then remove the vacuum cleaner bag (don’t forget the car). Washable items should be washed in hot water and dried in a hot dryer. Any item that can’t be washed should be bagged and stored outdoors for at least 48 hours, but preferably for 10 days.
Students should be reminded not to share clothing, combs, or engage in direct head to head contact activities (such as hugging).
For more information, please contact the District Nurse at 218-894-5400 ext 3163.