Head Lice

Lice happen!  No school is immune to head lice outbreaks, and when they happen, teachers and school administrators take prompt action. If you are notified that head lice have been identified at your school, please check your child’s hair as soon as possible.

Lice like everyone!  As much as the thought of lice may disgust you, the fact is that if you have children, and they have hair, they can get lice.  It has nothing to do with cleanliness or housekeeping abilities.

Anyone with hair can get lice.

So, let’s get to know the enemy.  Head lice are extremely tiny critters than can only live on a human head.  An adult will glue up to ten nits, or eggs, a day onto the hair shafts and continue to do this for about 10 days.  After a week, the nits hatch into a nearly invisible nymph stage, and a week later the mature adults begin laying nits.  Take a good look at this picture.

Lice have 6 legs with hooks on the end.  Once these guys get onto a head, they hold on for dear life.

Lice are experts at playing Hide and Seek.  They can be the colour of the hair, hide behind the hair shaft and move an amazing 1 inch in 5 seconds.   Don’t be surprised if you never actually see a louse on your child.

Now for the really gross part.  Lice are blood suckers.   They bite into the scalp and feed for about 45 seconds every 2-3 hours.  When someone starts with a louse or two, the itching is barely noticeable,  but can soon become unbearable.

The only way to tell is to look.  If nits are found on a student, the student will be sent home.  They will not be allowed back into school until they have been treated with a lice shampoo or conditioner, and had ALL NITS REMOVED.   When you pick up your child, the school will show you what a nit looks like, and answer any questions.  Nit-picking is a parent’s job, and it can be very tedious, but it must be done.

After returning to school, someone will check to ensure the student is nit-free.

You can have lice without knowing it.

Nit Removal
Nits can be removed with the aid of a nit comb, or by hand.  If using a nit comb, part the hair into 4 sections, and clip.  Starting with the top of 1 section, separate a 1 inch piece of hair and place the nit comb as close to the scalp as possible.   Comb to the end of the hair, and then either wipe the comb with a tissue and place tissue in a plastic bag, or rinse the comb under hot running water. Nits that the comb misses will have to be removed by grasping the nit between your fingernails, and pulling it off the end of the hair.  Place these nits in the bag or down the drain.  Pin each section of hair as it is completed.  When finished, have your child change into clean clothes, and wash what they were wearing.   Also, don’t forget to thoroughly clean your own hands and fingernails with hot water.

Family members often share lice.

Hitchhikers!  You’d think that with the glue and hooks, lice would stay with one person – WRONG!   Did you think the dog was the only one to shed on the furniture?  WRONG AGAIN!   Humans lose hair all the time, and lice and nits travel with that hair.  A louse can survive 48 hours without a meal, which is plenty of time to find a new home.   Lice can wait for a new head to come to them or they can crawl up to 15 feet.   Children should be discouraged from sharing hair brushes, towels or hats, because lice spread quickly and easily.

Success Checklist
  • Check all family members for lice or nits.  The school can help.
  • Go to drugstore and purchase lice treatment.  Read instructions and precautions before purchasing
  • Apply lice treatment exactly as instructed.  This is REALLY important.
  • Remove all nits.
  • In very hot water, wash combs, brushes, hats, towels, pillow cases, clothing, etc.
  • Kill lice and nits on large items by heating them in the dryer, dry cleaning, bagging for 2 weeks, or freezing.
  • Vacuum carpets, furniture and car interior.
  • Inform parents of others in contact with your child.  VERY IMPORTANT!
  • Re-treat in 7-10 days.  Inspect hair 1-2 times a week for the next 4 weeks.
Shopping List
  • Enough treatment for the family;
  • nit comb if desired;
  • rubber gloves for the person who will be applying the treatment;
  • garbage bags for hard to wash items;
  • and shampoo without conditioner, if using NIX.