Pediculosis capitis, also called pediculosis or head lice, is a common problem for children and their families.It occurs in all socio-economic levels regardless of age, gender or standards of personal hygiene. It is not a disease but can be a frustrating problem to deal with.
The head louse is a wingless insect that lives on the human scalp and lays eggs (nits) in the hair. It cannot hop or fly, but crawls rapidly. Because the head louse is very difficult to see, it is usually diagnosed by the presence of nits. Personal physical contact or common use of combs, brushes or headgear transmits lice. The most common signs of lice are persistent itching of the head, a crawling sensation in the hair, and the appearance of live lice or eggs on the hair. You can help to control lice outbreaks by checking your children’s hair weekly for lice and nits and treating the hair immediately if any are found.
Teachers should screen their classroom of students periodically. Students identified with pediculosis should be sent to the office or health room while respecting the student’s confidentiality. The parent/guardian will be notified to take the child home for treatment with a medicated anti-lice pediculicide that may be purchased without prescription. Not all anti-lice products are the same especially when it involves method of treatment and follow up re-application. Care must be given to follow the directions precisely in order for it to work properly.
Return of student to school:
Once the student has been treated and any remaining nits manually removed, the parent/guardian must bring him/her to school for a recheck. The nurse or other school official will either clear the student to return to class or send him/her back home. Students should not ride the school bus until school officials have cleared them.
Absence of Infested Child from School:
The day the child is sent home and the following day will be considered excused absences. The remaining days will be considered unexcused and subject to procedures implemented to control absenteeism.
Education is a major component of lice control in the school setting. Teach children not to share their combs, brushes, hair barrettes, hats, etc. Provide parents with the parent information sheet that informs them of the three steps in treating head lice.