Head lice are gray, brown, or white and are so small they are difficult to see. Each female lays many eggs a day. The eggs are laid very close to the scalp on the hair shaft (usually within a fourth of an inch from the scalp) and hatch within a week. The lice then crawl on the hair shafts and lay more eggs.
Head lice infestation is NOT an indication of poor hygiene. Having clean or dirty hair doesn't influence whether or not you get head lice. They affect children in all levels of income and social class. Head lice infestations happen with direct head to head contact. Sharing brushes, combs, hair ties/bows/ scrunchies, hats and putting heads together to take selfies can cause head lice infestation if one of the participants already has active lice. Head lice do not fly, jump or swim.
IT IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT THAT ANY NEW CASE OF HEADLICE BE REPORTED TO THE SCHOOL NURSE SO THAT OTHER POSSIBLE EXPOSURES CAN BE CHECKED AND OTHER PARENTS ALERTED FOR ANY CONTINUED OUTBREAK. Be assured that the school nurse makes every effort to maintain confidentiality of known cases.
Our district has a no nit (lice egg) requirement in order for your child to return to school. Proper treatment with appropriate shampoo labeled for controlling lice, as well as removal of all eggs, is necessary before your child may return.
Treatment will not kill every egg. Egg casings will remain on the hair shaft after treatment. Therefore, it is necessary to remove each nit before the child returns to school. Your child may not attend school or ride the school bus until s/he has been cleared by the School Nurse.
To have your child readmitted to school you must:
* Treat with proper product as per guidelines.
* Be sure all eggs have been removed from child's hair.
A responsible adult must bring your child to school. Do not send them to school unattended. Remember children determined to have had lice cannot ride the school bus until they have been cleared by the School Nurse. Your child must report directly to the Nurse's Office after 8:00am. Do not send child to his/her regular classroom. The accompanying adult must remain until the child has been checked by the nurse and determined to be able to return to class. If any live lice or eggs are found, the child must be taken back home immediately to complete elimination of lice or eggs.
How do I find head lice?
- Part the hair in several places. Look especially in the regions behind the ears and near the neck. Lice move very fast and, therefore, are often difficult to see; however, nits (eggs) can be found. Nits are very small, brown to white, pinhead‑sized droplets on the hair near the scalp. Do not confuse nits with dandruff. If you pass your finger over the nit, it does not slide off the hair easily.
- Inspect every family member for lice‑‑treating only one person may not get rid of the problem.
- If lice or nits are found, call your doctor. There are several prescription and non‑prescription shampoos available such as NIX, KWELL, A‑200 PYRINATE, or RID. Treat all family members at the same time. The nits (eggs) must be removed by hand. The nits are easier to remove if a half‑and‑half solution of vinegar and water rinse is used on the hair after treatment.
- Wash all bed linens, towels, combs, brushes, and clothing that may be infested.
- Vacuum carpeting and furniture. House sprays are not indicated.
- Notify your child's playmates.
- Recheck head in 8‑10 days and RETREAT if any evidence of lice are present.
- A second treatment is recommended 8‑10 days after first treatment to kill newly hatched lice. The other alternative would be to remove all nits, but such attempts are often not 100% successful. Removing nits is difficult since they are securely cemented to hair shafts, and a few may be overlooked in thick hair. (Removal of nits is required for students to return to the classroom in this school district.)
The timing of the second treatment is critical. The pediculicide shampoo should be applied 8‑10 days after the first treatment. Waiting 8 days allows all remaining viable eggs to hatch, and these hatched, crawling lice are generally more susceptible to the shampoo than are the eggs. However, none of the newly hatched lice will reach reproductive age before the second treatment, and therefore no new eggs will be deposited.
(The above information comes from recommendations provided by the Maricopa County Health Department and the Arizona Department of Health Services.)