What to do?
Head lice are small wingless insects that live on the human scalp. They do not jump or fly but crawl very fast. An adult louse lays several nits or eggs which are very tiny and hard to see. Nits are attached to the hair with a glue like substance unlike dandruff which flakes away. Nits are mostly found on the nape of the neck and behind the ears. Nits hatch in 7-10 days causing a large head lice infestation. Each family member should have their heads checked and treatment should begin if nits or lice are found.
Over The Counter Lice Treatment
- Use over the counter lice treatment as directed. Ask a pharmacist questions if necessary.
- Use on dry hair, apply amount listed on product.
- Massage lice treatment thoroughly onto dry hair until hair is soaked completely.
- Leave lice treatment on hair as directed, rinse out.
- If you've tried over the counter lice treatments recently and feel it's not effective, try alternative methods such as:
- Apply mineral or olive oil to hair, leave on 30 minutes, wash out with Dawn dish soap. Apply white vinegar, leave on 30 minutes, rinse out. Continue to pull or combs nits out.
Combing/Pulling Out Nits
This is the most important step in getting rid of head lice. No lice treatment kills 100% of nits, so all nits must be removed to prevent them from hatching. If one nit is left, the head lice problem could continue. As you remove the nits, put them in alcohol.
- Good light is a necessity. Sunlight or fluorescent lights are best. Nits will be missed in regular light.
- Metal combs work better than plastic combs. Combing out nits is not the same as combing hair with a regular comb. You must divide hair into 4 sections, and take small tiny sections (1 inch wide) of hair and comb or pull nits. If combs do not work, you will need to pull the nits out with your fingernails.
Checking Hair Daily
Use bright light, section hair, and spend at least 2 hours daily searching for nits. Remember, if nits remain they may not be dead from the lice treatment. If nits hatch, the problem will start all over again. Continue to check hair for nits daily for at least a month. Notify your school nurse if you find additional nits or adult lice.
Retreatment In 7-10 Days if you see adults
- Retreat with lice treatment. Follow instructions. Continue to pull out nits.
- Wash all bed linens and pillows daily in hot water. Place in dryer. Vacuum mattress daily. Wash clothes worn, hats, and other washable items in hot water. Dry clean items if necessary.
- Vacuum carpet, cloth furniture, and seats of cars. Throw bag away.
- Place all stuffed animals or items with cloth in an airtight bag for 2 weeks.
Head Lice Prevention
Head lice are mainly spread by head to head contact. Head lice can spread indirectly by sharing clothes, bed linens, hats, and brushes with someone who has head lice.Education is the best prevention.Teach your child and others not to share hats, helmets, jackets, combs, and brushes.
Forsyth County School's Guidelines
Students exhibiting signs and symptoms of head lice will be sent to the school nurse. Possible symptoms are: itchy scalp, tiny gray or brown bugs in the hair, nits (tiny yellowish-white or brown oval eggs attached directly to the hair shaft), scalp rash.
If live lice or nits are observed, the school nurse will call the parent. The parent may pick up their child immediately from school or the parent may choose for the child to be sent home their usual way at the end of the school day (including riding the bus, single seat preferred.) If the child remains in school, the nurse will ask the parent if long hair can be put up in a ponytail. The child will be given a lice treatment guideline packet. Siblings of infested child will also be checked. If siblings attend another school, that school nurse will be notified to check the siblings.
Students are excused the 2 days of absence to treat the head lice. If students are picked up by parent during the school day, this will be an excused absence.
In order for the child to return to school, the parent will need to provide proof of treatment; a store receipt for lice treatment or box top or in the case of homeopathic treatment, a short video or picture showing the treatment. The nurse will examine the child for live lice and/ or nits. If no live lice are seen and the number of nits are diminished from the initial check, students may go to class.
Students will be re-checked for the presence of head lice after 7-10 days. Parents should remove all the nits from their child’s hair. The continued presence of nits in a student’s hair after treatment is not a sufficient ground for denying readmission to school unless the number of nits are not consistently decreasing over a period of 7-10 days. All infested persons should be retreated in 7-10 days to deactivate any remaining lice that have hatched or did not die after the initial treatment. Proof of treatment will again be required. If a student has not been treated for lice or nits, the parent will be notified and the child will be sent home.
Parents have the ultimate responsibility for their children. This includes assisting in the prevention and management of head lice cases through regular checks of their children’s hair and starting immediate treatment when head lice are detected.
With your help we can greatly reduce the incidence of head lice in our schools. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or need strategies to help rid your home of lice.