Dear Parents / Guardians
This letter is to inform you that we have a reported case of head lice and nits at school. Please do not be alarmed because it is common for this to occur in schools. Personal hygiene and cleanliness in the home or school have nothing to do with getting head lice.
Please take the following precautions:
- Check your child’s hair for lice and/or nits.
- If you suspect your child has lice and/or nits, ask your health care provider to diagnose the problem and recommend appropriate treatment.
- Notify the school nurse if your child is diagnosed with head lice and/or nits.
- If head lice are present, do not return your child to school until he/she has been treated and all the nits have been removed.
Information about head lice and nits:
What are head lice? The head louse is a tiny insect that lives on the head, eyebrows and eyelashes of people. Head lice have three forms: the nit (egg – tiny, pearl-gray, oval-shaped speck attached near the scalp), the nymph (not quite mature), and the adult (mature). The eggs hatch in 7-10 days. The nymphs take 7-13 days to become adults. Adult lice can live up to 30 days and usually die within 2 days if they fall off of the human body. While lice are an inconvenience, they are not known to spread disease.
How should you check for head lice? Lice and nits live close to the human scalp and are generally found at the base of the neck and behind the ears. A magnifying glass and a bright light can be used to help identify lice and nits.
How do head lice spread? Lice spread by head-to-head contact or by direct contact with personal articles such as combs, brushes, clothing, bedding or towels. Do not share your personal items with others. Lice do not fly or jump, but they do crawl. Head lice are not spread by animals.
What should you do if my child has head lice? If your child does have lice and/or nits, everyone in your family unit should be checked and treated.
To get rid of head lice:
- Use the medicine that your health care provider prescribes or recommends. Be very careful with these products and do not treat children less than 2 years of age, pregnant or nursing women, or people with extensive cuts or scratches on their head or neck without consulting a doctor.
- After appropriate treatment, all nits must be removed. This is a difficult and time-consuming process because nits attach themselves firmly to the base of the scalp. A special nit-removing comb can be used.
- Check for nits daily for the next 21 days. Most shampoos recommend retreatment 7 days after the initial treatment.
- Clean personal items and surroundings.
- Blow dry hair 30 minutes every day for 3 weeks. Research has shown that blow drying hair for 30 minutes daily has been proven to kill nearly 98% of nits.
How do I clean infested items?
- Wash and dry clothing, bed linen, hats, scarves and other items in hot water (54 o C).
- For items that cannot be washed, seal them in a plastic bag for 10-14 days in order to kill any lice or nits present.
- Wash combs and brushes and soak them in hot water for at least 5 minutes.
- Thoroughly vacuum furniture, rugs and mattresses.
- Do not use insecticide sprays because they can be harmful to people and animals.
When can my child return to school? If your child has been diagnosed with head lice, he/she may return to school once the shampoo has been used, all the nits have been removed from your child’s hair, and you have cleaned all personal items. Please bring in a note from your doctor stating your child has received treatment. Remember to keep checking your child’s hair for new nits every day for 3 weeks and then periodically thereafter. Please ask your child to visit my office, so I can check his/her hair before returning to class.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns. Please also contact me to report a confirmed case of head lice.
Donna Buckner, BSN, RN, NCSN