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Head Lice

Head Lice are small, grayish-white, wingless bugs about the size of a flea that live in human hair.  They cannot fly or hop, but can crawl from one person to another when head-to-head contact occurs.  They live in long hair, short hair, hair that is washed daily and hair that is washed weekly.  Regular shampooing and combing does not kill them. 

Head Lice is not a sign of bad hygiene.  The most effective way to get rid of lice is to be educated and persistent.  At school we are committed to parental support, education, reducing stigma, and student confidentiality.  Lice are very rarely transmitted at school.  Mass screenings have been proven to be ineffective.

Head lice are spread by direct contact with people who have them.  They do not live on animals, stuffed animals, carpet, or clothing.   Lice will die if they do not feed for 1-2 days, so every Monday the school is lice-free!

The life span for a louse is about one month.  Each female louse lays approximately 3-5 eggs, called nits, daily.  The eggs normally hatch in 7-10 days and the live lice grow another 7-10 days until they become capable of laying eggs.  Lice feed by sucking blood from the scalp several times a day.  In our area, lice do not transmit diseases but can cause intense itching and head scratching. The itching is caused by a localized reaction to the saliva of the lice and it may take 4-6 weeks of infestation to develop this sensitivity.

Please check your child or children regularly, especially if you notice your child scratching his or her head frequently.  Live lice are seldom seen by an inexperienced eye.  Instead, look for nits, the head lice eggs, on the hair shaft close to the head.  Nits are small, white oval eggs about half the size of a sesame seed that attach firmly to hair shafts.  They do not fall off the hair like dandruff does.  They are difficult to spot in blond hair;  a bright light (and sometimes a magnifying glass) is helpful when checking for them.

If you find evidence of head lice and need information on how to treat it, you may contact your health care provider or school nurse.  The resources listed below are a great source of information and really represent the most accurate evidence-based information available. For more detailed information, including steps to remove, please visit the Washington State Department of Health website.

Your child can return to school the day after being treated for lice.  Continue to comb out the hair with a metal-toothed lice comb for another week after you think they are completely gone.  Working a cheap conditioner into hair while combing can make it easier.  Make sure hair is dried thoroughly, as lice have flat bodies and tend to die in dry conditions.  

We know that tackling lice is no small undertaking.  It can be expensive and very time consuming.  Everyone’s help and cooperation are greatly appreciated.