If you have received the dreaded “There have been reported cases of head lice in your child(ren)’s classroom’’ notice, don’t panic! Read on, and know that if you do find those little critters in your child’s head, that you are not alone and you will get through it!
Step 1: Get informed.
Read the School Notice carefully, (and the BC Health online document referred to in the notice). Seek out a friend who has dealt with lice – they can be an invaluable help – don’t be afraid to ask! If you’ve never seen nits or lice, it can be extremely helpful to have someone show you what you are looking for! The school office also has a list of resource parents you can call on for help and support.
Step 2: Screen your child’s head, and the rest of the family’s.
Find a well-lit area. Start screening on one side of the head, near the ears and work your way around the back of the head to the other ear. You are looking for live lice (which move very quickly), and tiny eggs or “nits”, which are ½ the size of a sesame seed and are glued to the hair shaft, close to the scalp. (Nits are often confused with dandruff or other debris. These types of particles flake off easily, while nits cling and cannot be “flicked” off.) Click here to view photos of lice and nits. Repeat this step frequently. Because it takes 7 days for the first nit to hatch, it is crucial to keep checking.
Step 3: If necessary, treat.
If anyone in your family has head lice, treat everyone living in the home on the same day. Head lice will not go away without treatment.
Treatment options include:
(a) Wet-Comb Method
(b) Chemical Shampoo
Regardless of which treatment you choose, please be aware that the biggest step in getting rid of head lice is to MANUALLY remove all the head lice and nits. Even if you use a chemical treatment, you will still need to comb out the nits. Unfortunately, there is no quick-fix to getting rid of head lice. Average infestations take 2 – 3 weeks to clear.
Note: The recommended comb is the Licemeister and it is available for $23.95 at the Lynn Valley Shopper’s Drug Mart. (The $4 comb does NOT work!)
Step 4: Clean items that have been in contact with heads.
On the same day that you do the treatment:
• Clean brushes and combs with very hot water. Everyone should use their own brush or comb.
• Wash hats, pillow cases and stuffed animals in hot water. Use a hot dryer, if possible.
It is not necessary to do a lot of house cleaning, as the lice do not live long once they are off the scalp.
Step 5: Inform others (school, daycare, sleepovers), just as if you had chicken pox or the flu.
Remember, anyone can get head lice, it’s simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time! Children with head lice should begin treatment before they return to school.
Step 6: Prevent the spread of lice at home and at school.
• Watch for itchy heads!
• Screen all family members frequently
• Encourage those with long hair to wear it up
• Don’t share hats, helmets, costumes, combs or hair accessories
• Use your own sleeping bags and pillows for sleep-overs
At school/out and about:
• Avoid cloak rooms – stuff jackets in backpacks/bags or hang over back of chair
• Avoid games that involve sharing hats or clothing
For even more information (and personal consultations!) check out Lice911’s website: