Treatment for Head Lice
Head lice infestations are a common problem for children in the school setting. Each year we see cases of head lice in the Belton School District. Anyone can get head lice, and their presence does not indicate unsanitary conditions. Lice DO NOT spread disease. You may help keep this situation under control by checking for head lice often. It is our objective to protect all children and decrease the cost and inconvenience incurred by you as a result of head lice. Students will be removed from school only if live lice are present and should only be out of school long enough to receive appropriate treatment.
The following information may be helpful:
- Lice are spread by head-to-head contact and by sharing personal items such as hats, combs, brushes, scarves, bedding, and clothes.
- Symptoms include itching of the head and neck. On the head you might see brownish colored insects. Lice are very small, less than 1/8 inch long. The adult louse is about the size of a sesame seed. The eggs (nits) are gray or white in color and are tiny (about the size of the eye of a small needle). The nits are glued to the base of a shaft of hair and are most often found along the hairline behind the ears and at the back of the neck.
- Lice DO NOT jump or fly. They crawl and can fall off the head. They do not live longer than 48 hours off the head. The ones that do fall off are thought to be dying and weak and not viable. They only lay their eggs while on the head. The eggs do not hatch if they fall of the head. Nits which are more than ½ inch from the scalp are dead or empty and will not hatch.
- Head lice are insects that live on human heads only. Lice do not spread to or from pets.
- If your child is infested with lice it will take 7 to 10 days from when the eggs are laid until they hatch.
- If your child has head lice, he/she/needs to stay home until treatment has occurred and no live lice are seen. Nits are not considered live lice. For directions on how to control the spread of lice at home, click here.
- Call your healthcare provider or pharmacy for advice. Recommended treatment includes using either a prescription or store-bought lice killing product.
- Follow the product directions carefully (especially the amount of product to use, length of time on the hair, and whether to use on dry or damp hair). With certain products, a second treatment is recommended 7-10 days later. Lice treatment products are not 100% effective in killing lice, especially nits. It may take 24 hours for products to kill lice.
- Removing the nits is a very important part of the treatment for controlling head lice. The nits are glued onto the hair shaft as they are laid, and require effort to remove. To remove the nits, use a metal nit comb or your fingernails to slide eggs off the hair shafts, or use scissors to cut the hair shafts that have nits glued to them. Continue checking the head and combing hair daily for 2 weeks. All nits eventually need to be removed. If, not your child may get an active case of head lice again.
- After initial treatment your child must be brought to school (he/she may not ride the bus) the following day by a parent/guardian and be taken to the health room for a head lice screening prior to returning to class.
Your child will be checked by health room personnel again 7-10 days after initial treatment as well. Please direct any questions or concerns to the health room at your child’s school.
Gretchen Sullivan, RN BSNSupervisor, Health Services