Head lice management requires teamwork between public health staff, school staff, parents and the community. As with other diseases, head lice management is the responsibility of the parent, not the school or other agency. The best way to detect and manage head lice is to have parents check their children’s heads on a regular basis throughout the year.
If a child has head lice:
- Parents are asked to notify the school immediately.
- School/daycare may notify their public health nurse if further follow-up support and education should be provided to the family.
- School will distribute a notification letter to the children in the classroom or the area affected. The letter should provide notification to parents of lice found in the classroom and provide additional education on what to look for, how to treat as well as myths and realities (see below).
- Students diagnosed with live head lice do not need to be sent home early from school. They can go home at the end of the day, however head-to-head contact is discouraged.
- Parent is advised that the child may return to school/daycare after the first treatment with a recommended pediculicide has occurred.
- Parents are advised that they should remove as many nits as possible. This makes it easier to see any new infestations and avoid unnecessary treatment due to false identification.
HEAD LICE MYTHS:
In 2015 the EPA released new information on head lice and established a list of myths based on current research. It is a myth that head lice:
- are a sign that a person or home is unclean;
- can jump, fly and survive long periods of time when off or not on their host;
- can infest buildings;
- are readily shared on comb, brushes and hats;
- burrow into skin or transmit infections;
- are resistant to all treatments;
- should prevent a child from attending school.
HEAD LICE FACTS:
- head lice are insects;
- they only infest people (usually only children), not pets;
- they occur solely on the scalp hair;
- they only feed on blood;
- they do not burrow into skin;
- they are treatable.;
- once separated from their human hosts, they rapidly suffer from starvation and water loss and generally die in less than one day;
- not all bugs found on the head are lice. Springtail, head louse and booklouse can also be found on the scalp.
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