Head Lice image

Lice are very common with approximately 6-12 million children contracting lice each year. Although the thought of little bugs crawling through our hair makes us squirm, it is simply a time consuming nuisance, an embarrassment for both parent and child, and can be costly. It DOES NOT carry or cause the spread of any diseases.

Why did MY child get head lice?
Head lice is spread through direct head to head contact with an infected person. The likely hood of lice being transmitted from hats, coats, combs, or other inanimate objects is very rare because the human louse lives on a diet of human blood and can survive only 24 to 48 hours off the human head. Children are likely to contract lice from an infected friend via sleep overs, playing at one another’s home, or through certain sports. School transmission is rare, and accounts for only 1% of cases, the common cold is transmitted much easier and more often.

How is head lice spread?
Lice do not fly or jump. They crawl very quickly from head to head, through direct contact, with claws at the end of each of their six legs, designed to tightly grasp the human hair. Direct contact with an infested person’s hair can happen through various ways such as close contact during play, hugging one another, or squeezing together closely for selfies.

Who gets lice?
Head lice can infest children and adults from all backgrounds. ANYONE can get head lice, no matter where they live, where they go to daycare/school, who they play with, or how clean they keep their hair or home. It only takes a few seconds of head to head contact with someone that has lice.

So your child has come home with the dreaded head louse. What now? You can always call your child’s MD or your local pharmacy for treatment suggestions. Follow the directions carefully and completely for any treatment. Home remedies such as olive oil or mayonnaise should not be used alone. If using these methods always use in conjunction with a nit comb. Combing the hair with a nit comb every 2-3 days to remove any remaining nits or live lice may prevent self - re-infestation. Continue this for the next 2-3 weeks. Vacuum all furniture, carpets/rugs, and any surface you are able to pick up stray hairs that may contain lice or viable nits (eggs). Wash bed lines, towels, hats or coats (worn by child the last 24-48/hrs), and any stuffed animals you are able to in hot water and dry on the hot cycle. Lice can only survive 5 minutes in hot temperatures (128 degrees or higher). Soak combs and brushes in hot water for 5-10 minutes. The entire household needs to have their hair checked and also as a preventative all family members can be treated as well.

Weekly hair checks on children, and treating immediately if lice or nits are found. Keeping your child’s hair short or pulled up will not prevent head lice. Nor will hairspray, special hair care products, or adding things to your own shampoo. The most effective lice prevention is education.

We’ve all seen children playing at school, so that being said, eliminating head to head contact is nearly impossible. Concentrate on educating your child/children about not sharing objects that touch their heads such as combs, brushes, hats, towels, pillows, helmets, and so on. Objects that come in direct contact with your child’s head that they share with other children (car seats, pillows, stuffed animals) should be cleaned regularly. If your child gets lice, don’t hesitate to tell the parents of your child’s friends so they can check their child for lice. If you keep it a secret because of embarrassment, your child is likely to become re-infested due to their friends not being treated.

“No-Nit” policies and Routine classroom head checks
“No-Nit” policies and excluding children from school is not only not necessary, it is not effective in preventing or managing head lice per the American Association of Pediatrics, National Association of School Nurses, and the Centers of Disease Control. There has also been no medical reason shown to exclude students from school. School exclusion can have an effect on a child’s education, as each year countless children miss school repeatedly due to head lice. Salamanca City Central School District DOES NOT have a “No-Nit” policy. If a student is found to have lice at school a phone call will be made to the parent instructing them to treat their child/children and then bring them to school the next morning to be checked by the School Nurse and will be re-admitted following successful treatment. If a parent is unable to be reached a letter will be sent home with the student explaining the situation. It has long been the belief that routine classroom head checks minimize or prevent the spread of lice. This is simply not true and is not recommended by the American Association of Pediatrics. Routine head checks have been found to take students away from learning activities and misidentification can be common. This practice also causes the student and family unneeded embarrassment and unfair stigmatizing.

Simply knowing the facts about lice, educating your child/children, and preforming routine checks at home are the keys to managing and reducing head lice. Remember if your child gets head lice it is treatable, common in school age children, and we make it much worse on ourselves than it really is.

For further education or any questions please contact Julianne Creed SCCSD Nurse Manager at 945-5140 ext 6203 or jcreed@salamancany.org. You can also contact any of the School Nurse’s.