Interior Health Authority
Guidelines for Managing Head Lice at School
Head lice can affect anyone. Head lice are annoying and may cause itching, but they do not transmit or cause disease. Children and adults’ reactions to head lice can subject children to teasing, bullying and isolation. Reactions to head lice can significantly interfere with a child’s emotional well-being, social status in the classroom and ability to learn. For these reasons, head lice infestations should be treated.
For Best Control of Head Lice:
The primary responsibility for control of head lice rests with the family and
Public health nurses can answer questions about the management of head lice. If a child has head lice, they can continue to have contact with others for the
remainder of the day. The parents need to be told so that they can begin treatment as soon as possible.
To prevent the spread of head lice and ensure that the child has received
treatment, information letters should be given to parents and classroom contacts. Please see below for Recommended Head Lice Management.
Children should not be excluded from the community or school due to head lice. If there are problems with the treatment, parents are encouraged to consult a public health nurse for information and resources.
What Parents Can Do:
• Be aware of the symptoms of head lice and the treatment procedures.
• Check the heads of all family members on a weekly basis. Increase this to daily
head checks when a case of head lice has occurred in your child’s classroom or one of the family members has been in contact with head lice.
• Treat the infested heads. • Refer to the Interior Health School Health Website (Educational Video,
PowerPoint and Guidelines) www.interiorhealth.ca (type in “head lice” in search box).
• Contact the Public Health Nurse when treatment has failed to rid your child’s
• Teach your children not to share hair accessories, hats, coats, combs, brushes, etc.
with others and tie back or braid your child’s hair.
TREATMENT STEPS TO FOLLOW:
1. Check the heads
of all family members. Check hair, especially behind ears and back
of neck, for head lice and/or live nits (eggs) – look for white to light brown oval specks “glued” to the strands of hair, very close (within 6mm or ¼ inch) to the scalp. If one person in the family has head lice, there is an increased chance that other family members have head lice too. Head lice move very quickly. Combing hair with a fine-toothed nit comb can help find live lice. Wetting hair or using conditioner prior to combing may also help find live lice
. Nits are glued to the hair; dandruff can be flicked off the hair. Use good lighting when doing head checks.
family members with live head lice or live nits should be treated. Carefully read
and follow directions of the head lice product.
Do not use conditioners for 1 week
following treatment. Unless you treat all family members who have head lice at the
same time, head lice can be passed on from one person to another when heads touch.
Conditioners can reduce the effectiveness of treatment.
3. Remove nits (within ¼ inch of scalp)
Gently use “nit” comb (metal works best) or
use your fingers to pull nits from the single strands of hair. Rinse nit comb or fingers in a sink or bowl of warm water and wipe dry after each stroke. Metal nit combs are available at your local pharmacy. If the nit comb tugs the hair, it may be upside down. Experts differ in their opinion on the need to remove nits. Nit removal is included, as it helps ensure fewer eggs will hatch, thereby improving the effectiveness of the treatment.
clothing worn in the past 2 – 3 days, bed sheets and pillowcases and then dry in
the hot cycle of the dryer. If articles cannot be washed in hot water or dried on a hot cycle in the drier, put the items in a sealed plastic bag for 10 days or place the sealed bag in the freezer for 48 hours.
4. There is no
evidence that a major clean up of the house is necessary to get rid of head
lice. It is more important to treat the head lice and remove the nits
. Only items that
have been in direct contact with the affected person need to be washed e.g. shirts,
jackets, hats, towels, combs, brushes.
5. Treat a second time
7 – 10 days later. Repeat step 3. A second treatment will make
sure that any head lice which hatch after the first treatment will be killed before they have a chance to lay any eggs. Two treatments and a follow-up check of the head with nit removal for 2-3 weeks is the best way to make sure head lice are gone.
6. If live head lice or new nits are found consult your Public Health Nurse or try Option B
Wet Combing. Note: the research to support this method is unclear but many people say it works.
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