Make head checks for lice a regular part of your child’s personal hygiene routine!
Head lice is one of the most common problems faced by school-aged children and their families. While head lice control is primarily a parent responsibility, parents, the school and community all have a role to play. We strongly encourage you to speak to your children about proactive behavior to prevent the spread of head lice. This includes not sharing combs, hats, pillows and hair accessories and to avoid head to head contact. Children should know that anyone can get head lice, it does not jump or hop from head to head and it is not dangerous. Although head lice is not considered a health issue it can cause stress, anxiety and economic hardship for staff, students and parents. It is essential that each family does its part at home by undertaking routine screening, early detection and removal of lice and nits as part of routine personal hygiene. Updated resources on how to properly screen and treat head lice are available on our school website or from school office staff.
Here are some basic facts about head lice.
- Head lice infestations are common in school aged children and anywhere children gather.
- Checking and treating children for head lice is a parent’s/caregiver’s responsibility.
- Since head lice is a common problem in school children it is strongly recommended that you check your child’s head weekly during the school year for head lice even if they are currently lice free.
- Head lice do not spread disease and are not associated with serious illness or a sign of poor hygiene.
- Children may have head lice but go weeks before showing symptoms. Misdiagnosis of head lice infestations is common. In some cases, lice can be mistaken for dandruff as they have similar symptoms and appearances.
- Head lice are spread mainly through direct head-to-head (hair-to-hair) contact or through sharing of personal items like hats or brushes.
- Lice do not hop or fly, but can crawl at a rapid rate.
- A diagnosis of head lice requires detection of live head lice. Detection of nits alone does not indicate an active infestation. Children with live lice need to stay home and get treated and should not return to school until the live lice are gone.
- Topical insecticides such as Nix can be toxic, particularly if misused. Care should be taken to avoid unnecessary pesticide exposure. There are now non-pesticide containing products such as Nyda and Resultz approved for lice treatment.
- A good lice comb along with manual picking of head lice and nits (eggs) is an essential part of treatment for head lice. Topical treatments alone do not always kill all of the lice and do not remove the nits.
- Excessive household or school cleaning is not warranted following the detection of a case of head lice because neither head lice nor nits survive for an extended period of time away from the scalp.
- According to the Canadian Pediatric Society, exclusion from school and daycare due to the detection of the presence of active lice or ‘nits’ (eggs) does not have a sound medical basis. As such ‘No nit’ school exclusion policies are not recommended. Instead, sharing of personal items such as combs, brushes, hats and close head-to-head contact should be avoided.
- Families of children in a classroom where a case of active head lice has been reported will be notified as such. The school will work with the teacher, students and families to help prevent further transmission. Information on the prevention and treatment of head lice is available here on our school website or at www.EIPS.ca
Head Lice Resources