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Head Lice

Pediculosis is a common problem in school-aged children. Head lice poses no real health risk to the population, however, since the condition can be transmitted to others, proper and successful treatment is essential.  Our goal is to educate students and parents on proper identification and elimination of head lice and nits. Head lice are easily treated if detected early and spread to others is minimized as well. Periodic head checks by parents, resulting in early detection, treatment and removal of live lice and nits, is the most reliable method for controlling pediculosis.

Bright light, ideally combined with magnification if available, is necessary to be able to spot the lice eggs or nits. Viable eggs are located within the first ½” of the hair shaft close to the scalp. They are very small, sometimes camouflaging to match the pigment of the hair color of the infested person and often can be spotted in the hair along the nape of the neck or behind the ears. The eggs attach firmly and must be literally scraped off the hair compared to dandruff which can easily be blown or flicked away. Live lice are much more difficult to spot as they avoid light and can crawl quickly.

 

If you see something on your child’s hair and are unsure as to whether or not it may be nits, please contact your healthcare provider or your school nurse to assist in identification. School nurses are a great resource as we all have extensive experience with this issue. We will provide you with information on management if a positive identification is made, but do ask that you contact your healthcare provider for any recommendations on medicated shampoos. Notification will be sent home to your child’s classroom that a case of head lice has been detected with instructions for parents to check their child’s scalp daily over the next several weeks. Children may return to school after being treated, but must be examined by the school nurse before returning to the classroom.  As a courtesy, parents should notify close contacts of their children.

In accordance with the recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Association of School Nurses, we are no longer screening entire classrooms for head lice as it has not been proven to be effective in dealing with the problem.Screenings involve a large amount of classroom time and when an outbreak is occurring, daily scalp checks over a period of several weeks are necessary. These frequent thorough scalp checks are best accomplished at home and, as mentioned previously, if you have questions or concerns, please give your school nurse a call.

In depth information on head lice and its treatment and prevention can be found at:

http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/lice/head/

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/126/2/392.full.html


[1] Frankowski BL, Bocchini JA, Council on School Health and Committee on Infectious Diseases. Head Lice. Pediatrics. 2010;  126;392: 398-399