Some of you have asked how to detect lice and what to do if lice are detected. Here is some useful information.
Live lice are about the size of a sesame seed, are usually brown in color, and are difficult to see since they move away from light. Lice do not jump or fly and do not transmit disease. They do not live long off of a human head (only about 2 days) and do not come from pets.
Lice lay eggs (nits) on the hair shaft approximately ½-1 inch from the scalp and are most commonly seen behind the ears, at the nape of the neck, and occasionally on the crown of the head.
Nits (whitish-grey oval shaped eggs) are easier to detect than the live louse. Unlike dandruff, they are almost “glued” to the hair and are difficult to remove. Nits can be seen best in sunlight/bright light. Itching is a late sign of head lice.
Head lice can live on a human host for up to 30 days. A female louse lays 6-10 eggs a day. The eggs hatch in 7-10 days (nymphs) and take another 7-10 days to mature and lay eggs. Based on the life cycle of head lice, it is important to check your child’s head daily for 3 weeks and routine weekly checks are strongly advised as head lice are much easier to treat if detected early.
Please feel free to call the health office for any questions or concerns. If you use over the counter or prescription products to kill lice, please be sure to read the directions carefully, especially regarding repeat applications. There are some products that can be used as often as you like, and others should only be used strictly according to directions. Also remember that most products are not guaranteed to kill nits (lice eggs); manual removal of all nits is the best method. Removal of nits is easier with bright light or daylight, a metal lice comb (or very fine tooth comb) and even some magnification. Separate sections of longer, thicker hair with clips and work through one section at a time. Sometimes a DVD helps pass the time for your child!
If you detect signs of head lice on your child, please notify the school nurse so we can work together in eliminating the problem and reducing the risk of reinfestation and transmission to other students.
Alicia Smith, School Nurse