Lice / Scabies

Did you know?

Lice are not attracted to dirty hair.  They actually prefer clean hair because it's easier to hold onto.

Although neither causes serious disease, lice and scabies are frustrating infestations that spread through close human contact and can therefore affect the community.

Treating head lice

Head lice can be a difficult and frustrating problem for anyone, but keep in mind that lice are common, do not carry disease, and are not a sign of poor hygiene or uncleanliness. Anyone who comes in contact with an infested individual or with contaminated items can get lice, although it is more common in school children and their families. Both over-the-counter and prescription medications are available to treat lice infestations.

No child should be kept home from K-12 school due to head lice. Lice are not a health hazard and are not easily spread in the classroom. Full classroom screening for lice are not done.  Since prompt treatment is in the best interest of everyone, children should be treated for lice at home before returning to school the next day.  Determine if siblings have been infected as well.

Reducing the spread of lice

Classroom Environment:

  • The Custodian will vacuum the affected classroom and upholstered furniture.
  • Stuffed animals, bedding and pillows are bagged for two weeks.  
  • Students will be encouraged not to share hats, combs, coats, stuffed animals and other personal items.

Home Environment:

  • Avoid head-to-head (hair-to-hair) contact during play and other activities at home, and elsewhere (sports activities, playground, slumber parties, and camp).
  • Do not share clothing such as hats, scarves, coats, sports uniforms, or hair accessories.
  • Do not share combs, brushes, or towels. Disinfest combs and brushes used by an infected person by soaking them in hot water (at least 130°F) for 5–10 minutes.
  • Do not lie on beds, couches, pillows, carpets, or stuffed animals that have recently been in contact with an infested person.
  • Machine wash and dry clothing, bed linens, and other items that an infested person wore or used during the 2 days before treatment using the hot water (130°F) laundry cycle and the high heat drying cycle. Clothing and items that are not washable can be dry-cleaned OR sealed in a plastic bag and stored for 2 weeks.
  • Vacuum the floor and furniture, particularly where the infested person sat or lay. 
  • Do not use fumigant sprays or fogs; they are not necessary to control head lice and can be toxic if inhaled or absorbed through the skin.

Symptoms and treatment of scabies

Anyone can get scabies, regardless of age, gender, or standards of personal hygiene. Scabies, a skin infestation caused by tiny mites that burrow under the skin, causes itching and sometimes results in a skin infection due to ongoing scratching. It spreads through prolonged direct skin contact or by sharing clothing, towels, or bedding and is common in crowded conditions, such as schools.

Symptoms do not appear for 2 to 6 weeks after the first infestation but could appear within days if previously infested. Treatment for scabies is a prescription cream or lotion containing an insecticide.

If you suspect you or your child has scabies, contact your health care provider immediately. Your child may return to school or child care after medical treatment has been completed.

Reducing the spread of scabies

Classroom Environment:

  • The Custodian will vacuum the affected classroom and upholstered furniture.
  • Stuffed animals, bedding and pillows are bagged for four days.  
  • Students will be encouraged not to share hats, combs, coats, stuffed animals and other personal items.

Home Environment:

  • See a doctor as soon as possible after symptoms present
  • Clean all bedding and clothing worn next to the skin during the 3 days before treatment in hot water 
  • Store clothing, stuffed animals, pillows, and any other items that cannot be washed in a tightly sealed plastic bag for four days

Resources

WA DOH Lice
CDC Lice
CDC Scabies

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