HEAD LICE & NITS INFORMATION
Few conditions cause so much concern and anxiety in schools and homes as head lice. However, it is important to know that lice DO NOT cause any medical harm. Brunswick County Schools Policy Code 4235/6135 addresses the presence of head lice and nits. The following is an excerpt:
“Students found with live head lice should be allowed to stay in the classroom for the remainder of the day, discreetly separated from peers, and referred to their parents for treatment. Students will not be allowed to attend school when lice (live bugs) or nits (eggs) are present. In addition, since school staff members may be unable to determine whether nits are dead after treatment, the presence of lice or nits requires that the student remain at home. Students are not to return to school until they have received treatment and all lice and nits have been removed from the child, as verified through re-screening by school staff.”
When a student is found to have lice or nits by school personnel, the student will be given a letter to parent and a Lice Fact Sheet from the Brunswick County Health Department. Every attempt will be made to contact the parent/guardian of the student. The student is not required to go home the day head lice or nits is identified, however early treatment is encouraged. Each student will received 2 excused absences, if needed, while treatment is provided. It is the expectation that the parent/guardian will ensure prompt treatment of the lice/nits by applying over-the-counter or prescription product to the student’s hair exactly as the product directions instruct, or as instructed by pharmacist or physician. Once the parent/guardian has provided treatment and removed all lice/nits, the parent, guardian, or designated adult will bring the student to the front office to be checked by school personnel to verify that all lice/nits have been removed. If lice/nits are found at that time, the student must return home until all lice/nits are removed. The school nurse will serve as a resource to parents and staff, providing education and hands-on instruction for lice/nit treatment and removal.
DEFINITION OF LICE
Head lice are tiny insects that feed on blood from the human scalp. An infestation of head lice, called pediculosis capitis, most often affects children and usually results from the direct transfer of lice from the hair of one person to the hair of another. A head lice infestation isn't a sign of poor personal hygiene or an unclean living environment. Head lice don't carry bacterial or viral infectious diseases. Over-the-counter and prescription medications are available to treat head lice. Following treatment instructions carefully is important for ridding your scalp and hair of lice and their eggs. A number of home or natural remedies are used to treat head lice infestations, but there is little to no clinical evidence of their effectiveness.
THE LIFE CYCLE OF A LOUSE
A louse egg hatches after eight or nine days. What emerges is an immature form of the louse called a nymph. The nymph becomes a mature adult louse after nine to 12 days, and an adult lives for three to four weeks. The louse can live off of the host for approximately 48 hours.
Head lice crawl, but they cannot jump or fly. Most often transmission of a head louse from one person to another is by direct contact. Therefore, transmission is most often within a family or among children who have close contact at school or play. Indirect transmission is not likely, but lice may spread from one person to another by items such as:
Hats and scarves
Brushes and combs
It's difficult to prevent the spread of head lice among children in child care facilities and schools because there is so much close contact. And the chance of indirect transmission from personal items is slight.
However, it is generally a good practice for children to hang their garments on a separate hook from other children's garments and not to share combs, brushes, hats and scarves. A worry about head lice transmission is not considered a good reason to avoid sharing protective headgear for sports and bicycling when sharing is necessary.
American Academy of Pediatrics: http://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/AAP-Offers-Updated-Guidance-on-Treating-Head-Lice.aspx
Centers for Disease Control: http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/lice/head/gen_info/faqs.html
Mayo Clinic. (2015). Disease and Conditions: Head Lice. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/head-lice/basics/definition/con-20030792
North Carolina School Health Program Manual. (2014). School Health Services: Pediculosis.