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Head Lice

Head lice are small parasitic insects that live by biting the host which can cause an itchy scalp. Lice are gray, brown or black and can be difficult to see.  They do not leave the human host on their own; they must be physically dislodged.  They do not infest pets, furniture, carpeting or toys.  The female louse lays eggs (nits) which are tiny, smooth, and oval in shape. The eggs range in color from white to yellowish-white to dark-brown; they are glued firmly at an angle to the side of the hair shaft. Nits are easier to spot at the nape of the neck, or behind the ears.

Prevention

Children should be taught not to share combs, brushes & hats.  Regular head inspections by parents is an excellent way to detect any early infestations.

When inspecting your child for head lice, part the hair into sections. Make sure the room is well-lit. The nits stick to the hair shaft and must be pulled off with a fingernail to remove (or a lice comb can be used). That is one way to tell the difference between a nit and a dandruff flake. Dandruff can be easily flicked with your finger. Nits cannot be flicked or washed away. Although head lice are a nuisance, head lice do not spread disease.

ISD procedures about managing head lice are based on recommended guidelines by the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), American Academy of Pediatrics, National Association of School Nurses and the Harvard School of Public Health as well as the current standard of practice in neighboring school districts.

An elementary student returning to school after head lice treatment must be accompanied by an adult who will remain at school until the student has been checked. The student may be excluded from school if parents have not completed treatment and/or live lice are present.

Secondary students must come to the health room to be checked before returning to school.

Parents can help control the spread of lice in children by:

  1. Checking their child's hair routinely for signs of head lice.
  2. Informing the school office if their child gets head lice.
  3. Informing family and friends so they can check their children.
  4. Treating their child and follow "Lice Aren't Nice" pamphlet instructions (available in the school office) to control transmission in the home.
  5. Examining all household members and treat anyone infested.
  6. Disinfecting clothing and bedding by machine washing and drying using the hot cycle.
  7. Soaking brushes, combs and hair clips in hot water above 120 degrees for 10 minutes.
  8. Vacuuming all rugs, carpet, furniture, car, car seats and stroller. Discard the vacuum bag. If using a bagless vacuum, securely bag vacuum contents immediately after vacuuming.
  9. Avoiding the use of environmental sprays (due to toxicity).
  10. Calling the school nurse and/or your Health Care Provider for information, resources and questions.
  11. Removing all lice and nits (head lice eggs) from the head. The only cure for lice is the removal of all lice and nits from the head.

Lice spread from person to person when people are in close contact or when they share clothing or personal items that have been in contact with the head or neck. Lice do not fly or jump: they crawl. Lice can infest anyone–young, old, rich, poor, clean or dirty. Avoid sharing personal items such as hats, coats, brushes, combs and pillows.

Resources