Information About Head Lice

It is common very common for school aged children to get head lice, and when it happens it can feel very overwhelming. If you think your child has lice, please contact the Sherwood office and we will help you determine if your child does have lice, and give you some tips and resources in dealing with lice. The Edmonds School District has a policy regarding head lice that you can view through this link: http://www.edmondsschools.org/cms/One.aspx?portalId=306754&pageId=452627

Human head lice do not spread disease. However, they can be an annoyance. Direct head-to-head contact, with someone with head lice, is the most common way it is transmitted. Lice crawl but do not fly or jump. Information on transmission, prevention and treatment is available at http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/lice/head/gen_info/faqs.html. Classrooms are only one of many environments in which lice can be transmitted. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), most lice transmissions occur in the home environment, through contact with friends, sleepovers, camps, etc. While in the past, it was common practice to be concerned about transmission through inanimate objects, most transmissions occur through head to head contact. Again, lice do not jump or fly; they crawl and are transmitted through direct contact.

There are ways to reduce head lice transmission by avoiding head-to-head contact. Not sharing towels, combs, brushes, bedding, or head gear may reduce the risk of transmission. Keeping long hair pulled back or braided is also helpful. Please check your student once a week for signs of lice such as the following: complaints of head itchiness, lice eggs (nits) which are oval shaped, feel like a grain of sand and stick to the hair. Most often they are seen in the hair behind the ears or near the neck. Nits may be easier to see than lice. An adult louse is about the size of a sesame seed, has six legs and may appear darker in someone with dark hair than in someone with lighter hair. Both insecticidal and non-toxic lice treatments are available over the counter. Head lice shampoos or rinses contains pesticide. Some lice are resistant to lice pesticides. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends using pesticides only as a last resort. Lice sprays for the house are not recommended. Nit-removal combs with metal teeth, such as Licemeister, used daily on wet hair for two to three weeks helps remove nits before they hatch into lice.

The Edmonds School District has updated head lice protocols based on the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics in its journal, Pediatrics. Consequently, classroom head lice screenings and letter notification of cases in a classroom have been discontinued. The Snohomish Health District recommends that students with head lice remain in school since head lice are not a public health hazard. All communications with families about lice are confidential; at school, our nurse and office staff with communicate with families who have students with lice and will work with them to provide information and resources to eliminate the lice. Having lice is an annoyance and while it is time consuming to deal with, it is an extremely common occurrence that most families will have to deal with at one time or another. Please contact the office directly if you think your child has lice, and we can help you through the process.

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