Your student has HEAD LICE. Now what?
First, it’s important to remember that head lice is not a serious disease or a sign of poor hygiene - it is, however, frustrating to deal with.
Second, read through this resource. Keep in mind this information and our Edmonds School District policies are based on the most current research, evidence based practice, and recommendations from experts including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Edmonds School District supports families as they work to eliminate head lice when they are discovered in their student.
HOW TO CHECK FOR HEAD LICE:
- Check one section of hair at a time. Part the hair into small sections going front to back, and then again side to side.
- Look for Nits (eggs) as well as Live Lice. Nits are tiny, oval shaped, whitish, grayish, and hard to remove from the hair. Lice like to lay their eggs in the thickest part of hair growth behind the ears, above the neck, and on top of the head.
WHEN LICE ARE DISCOVERED AT HOME
- Treat your student immediately and begin best practices to eliminate head lice.
- Your student is NOT required to stay home from school.
WHEN LICE ARE DISCOVERED IN SCHOOL
- The student is NOT sent home from school early. The parent/guardian is notified & instructed to treat their student at home before returning to school. They are also provided information with best practices to eliminate head lice.
- Follow-up head checks of the student may be done by the School Nurse or trained staff to confirm lice elimination efforts.
- Classroom notices and checks are NOT done with routine cases.
- Confidentiality continues to be a priority for school staff in compliance with FERPA.
BEST PRACTICES TO ELIMINATE HEAD LICE
TREATING HAIR WITH LICE MEDICINE
- Treat your student with lice medicine shampoo (pediculicide) as soon as possible. Lice medicine can be found over-the-counter in the pharmacy section of a store.
- Check everyone that lives in your house for lice and treat them at the same time if needed.
- After treating with the product, the affected person should change into clean clothes.
- Remove nits (eggs) and remaining dead lice by combing through the wet hair with the fine-tooth comb that comes in the lice medicine package.
- Continue combing to remove nits (eggs) DAILY for 2 - 3 weeks. Nits (eggs) must be physically combed out of the hair or removed by hand.
Many lice medicines require treating the hair again after a week, depending on the instructions.
If lice are still active in the hair 12 hours after treatment, contact a healthcare provider for advice on a different lice treatment.
TREATING HAIR WITH ALTERNATIVE METHODS
Families that prefer not to use medicated shampoo for treating a head lice infestation may consider an alternative treatment. There is little to no clinical evidence of the effectiveness of the treatments referenced below:
- Wet-combing: Combing wet hair with a fine-toothed nit comb may remove lice and some nits. The hair should be wet, and you should add something to lubricate the hair, such as hair conditioner. Comb the entire head from scalp to end of the hair using the nit comb at least twice during a session. The process should be repeated every three to four days for several weeks - at least two weeks after no more lice are found.
- Lice treatment services: Families can hire a business or “lice salon” to do head lice removal treatments.
TREATING YOUR HOME
- Bedding, towels, and clothes worn within the last 2 days should be washed using hot water and dried on a high heat cycle.
- Items that can’t be washed, like some stuffed animals and pillows, can be sealed in a plastic bag for 2 weeks.
- Soak combs and brushes in hot water for 10 minutes.
- Vacuum the floor and furniture.
- Spending a lot of time on house cleaning activities is not necessary.
- Excessive environmental cleaning, like using pesticides, is not recommended.
- 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.
PREVENTING SPREAD OF HEAD LICE
- Teach children not to share hats, scarves, coats, hair ribbons, barrettes, or helmets.
- Do not share combs, brushes, or towels.
- Avoid head-to-head (hair-to-hair) contact during play and other activities at homes, school and elsewhere (sports activities, playground, slumber parties, camp.)
- Do weekly head checks at home for lice and nits. Try on Friday evenings so you have the weekend to start treatment if needed.