Unfortunately, each school year all schools have head lice, especially elementary schools. Head lice are not a health hazard; however, they can be quite a problem for families to get rid of at home. Therefore, at the beginning of each school year we ask that you discuss the facts and precautions with your child(ren).
- Remind your child not to share combs, hair barrettes, hats, scarves, helmets, or coats. Head lice are wingless and do not have hind legs. So, they crawl, they DO NOT jump or fly.
- Have your child’s head checked if he/she complains of an itchy scalp.
- If your child does have head lice:
Finally, if you suspect or know your child has lice, PLEASE contact the school nurse.
HEAD LICE FACT SHEET
Head lice are tiny wingless parasitic insects that live on the head and scalp of people, especially children. They are about the same size as a sesame seed. The nits or eggs are very tiny, half the size of a pinhead and very difficult to see. The nits vary in color from yellowish-brown to pearly white and are teardrop shaped. Nits attach to the hair with a waterproof, glue-like substance.
How do head lice spread?
Head lice are spread through DIRECT contact. This is mainly from head to head contact. Sharing combs, brushes, hat, helmets, scrunchies and hair barrettes can also transmit them. Since head lice are wingless and do not have hind legs they DO NOT fly, jump or hop but crawl very fast at about 12 inches a minute.
What is the incubation period?
Nits or eggs hatch about every 7-10 days. It takes about 9-12 days after hatching for a louse to become an adult, As long as a head louse or nit remains alive they can be transmitted.
What are the symptoms?
The most common symptom is itching. Itching occurs when a louse bites and sucks blood from the scalp. Scratch marks and red bite marks may be seen behind the ears or back of the neck. Children may experience sleeplessness due to itching because head lice are active at night.
Who gets head lice?
Anyone can have lice. They are equal opportunity insects.
Treatment of the student and the home
Have your child’s head checked if he/she complains of an itchy scalp. Treat hair according to the doctor’s direction. It is recommended to remove ALL nits from hair. Repeat treatment according to directions. Wash clothing, pillows, bed sheets, and stuffed animals in hot water (130 degrees) then place them in a dryer at the hottest setting for 20 minutes. Wash all combs and hairbrushes in hot water (130 degrees) for 20 minutes. Vacuum the entire house. This includes all rugs, furniture, car seats and mattresses.
Finally, please contact your school nurse if you suspect your child may have head lice or your child does have head lice.