MANAGEMENT: Head lice
Information for parents
Head lice (pediculosis) infestation is common in the United States among children 3 – 12 years of age. Head lice are not a health hazard and are not responsible for the spread of any disease. The most common symptom of lice infestation is itching. If you notice your child scratching his or her head often, especially behind the ears or at the nape of the neck, check for lice.
Following is a list of facts you may find helpful:
1. Head lice can affect any child from any family.
2. Cleanliness has nothing to do with getting head lice.
3. Lice are spread through close, direct physical contact with an infected person. Items such as
shared combs, hats, upholstery, jackets, clothing and other items that have come into contact with infested hair can also spread lice. Please stress to your child NEVER to share any of these items with other children.
4. Lice have nits (lice eggs) that attach to the hair with a strong, glue-like substance, typically near the crown of the head, behind the ears, or at the nape of the neck.
5. Lice do not jump or fly. They will die within a day without a human host. 6. The first signs of lice infestation you may notice are itching, irritation and redness of the skin or
scalp area. The actual infestation usually begins 30 – 35 days before any of these signs appear.
Treatment for head lice includes:
What to do if your child comes home with head lice:
Don’t panic. Anyone—adult or youngster—can get head lice. Head lice are passed from person to person by direct contact or on shared objects (combs, towels, headphones, etc.). It has nothing to do with cleanliness and does not reflect poorly on you as a parent. The problem is easily managed. Just follow the instructions below:
1. Check every member of the family.
Look for tiny white eggs (nits) on hair shafts, near the scalp, especially at the nape of the
neck and behind the ears. Head lice are small grayish-tan insects without wings. Any family member with lice or nits must be treated.
2. Use an effective head lice treatment.
Several are available without a prescription. Follow the package
directions exactly. Your child may require a 2nd treatment 7 days after the initial treatment if live lice/nits are found. A 2nd treatment is required for some products, regardless of nits.
3. Remove all nits.
Gently comb the child’s hair with the special nit removal comb. No treatment is 100%
effective in killing nits. Failure to remove all nits may result in chronic head lice infestation. Special nit removal combs can be helpful. Use them to remove nits, one small section at a time. After each section is completed and checked, pin back. After all areas are completed and rechecked, rinse thoroughly. Check & remove nits daily for 2 weeks. The comb may not remove all nits. Nits may have to be removed by hand.
4. Wash clothes, bed linens, and towels.
Clothing, linen and cloth toys worn or handled by the infested individual during the 2 days before diagnosis
should be washed in water hotter than 130 degrees F and/ or machine dried at the hottest setting for at least 20 minutes. Other items may be sealed in a plastic bag for at least two weeks. Remember to wash/dry clean jackets, hoodies, hats, backpacks, and hair accessories.
5.Soak combs, brushes, etc. in hot water.
Combs and brushes used on infested persons should be immersed
in water hotter than 130 degrees F.
6. Vacuum everywhere.
Floors, rugs, pillows, upholstered furniture, car seats, and car
upholstery should be vacuumed. Remember to change the vacuum bag afterward.
Head lice cannot survive without a human host. They cannot survive on family pets. Choose an effective treatment, use as directed, and perform the steps listed above to help eliminate head lice from your home and to help prevent their spread in the community. Please remember to notify the school nurse, as well as any of your child’s recent contacts.
You may visit the following websites for additional information regarding treatment of head lice infestation.