Each year approximately 6-12 million children between ages of 3 and 12 years of age are infested with head lice. Infestations can occur throughout the year although there is often an increase during back-to-school times. Lice are ‘equal opportunity’ parasites. They infest all socioeconomic groups, races, genders and ages. While lice are not considered an infectious disease, transmission from one child to another during direct contact or through sharing of personal items such as hats, helmets, brushes or combs. It is important for you to know that lice are not a sign of poor hygiene and they do not transmit disease.
While preventing head lice entirely can be difficult, parents should discourage their children from sharing personal items. Children should also avoid head-to-head contact at school and on the playground, and avoid sleepovers and slumber parties during lice outbreaks.
There are two stages of lice that you can see in someone’s hair. Live louse are tiny, wingless, grayish-tan insects and may be seen crawling close to the scalp or on hair shafts. You may also see the eggs or nits that have been laid on hair strands. Nits cannot be washed away like dirt or dandruff but must be removed with a special comb. The live lice are treated with a special shampoo that contains a pesticide to kill the bugs and then, probably the most important part, is combing the nits out so that they cannot hatch more bugs. Be sure to follow the directions on lice shampoo exactly as too much shampoo can be harmful. Medicated lice shampoos include Lice MD, RID or Pronto Plus.
Head lice should NOT interrupt your child’s education so students with live lice will be referred home for treatment but they will not be excluded from school for nits.
Riverstone Health will be at Elysian School on Wed. morning October 23rd to give flu shots to any students, staff or parents. More info with details will be sent home soon.
Hand washing is the single most important step in preventing the spread of many infectious diseases. I will be visiting all the classes in the next couple of weeks to practice good hand washing with our students. They will then come home to teach you! Let’s stay healthy this year.