As there has been a case of head lice in the setting recently, I would like to take this opportunity to give you some information regarding checking your child’s hair and treating any infestations. Head lice are a common problem in children and they are largely harmless but can live in hair for a long time if not properly treated, and can be irritating and frustrating to deal with.
Please be aware that it is the parent’s responsibility to check their child’s hair regularly and treat it as soon as possible if any head lice are found. Please note that staff are unable to check through a child’s hair for you in case of head lice dropping off on to clothes, toys or their own hair. This is our prevention procedure.
What to look for:
- Adult lice are small (about the size of a sesame seed).
- Eggs (nits) are usually found firmly attached to the base of the hair shaft.
- Lice stay near the scalp, often behind the ears, near the neckline, and back of the head.
- Head lice hold tightly to the hair. They move by crawling. They cannot hop or fly (they do not have wings), but do move quickly making it difficult to find in a child’s hair and can be passed on by head to head touching.
- Signs of a head lice infestation include: itchy scalp, tickling sensation in a person’s hair. Head lice are most active in the dark.
If parents find their child has head lice, it is important to for parents to begin treatment straightaway and before the child returns to pre-school. Prompt treatment action is requested so that we reduce the risk of head lice being passed on to others.
Parents must also report if their child has head lice to a member of staff so that we can make other parents aware. This is done confidentially and no names are mentioned. Please look out for our sign on our outside pre-school door which will notify you if we have any infestations.
Tips for over-the-counter head lice treatment:
- When using an over-the-counter head lice product, it is very important that you read and follow all directions on the product’s label.
- Do not treat someone who does not have live lice (or nits close to the head). Do not use these products as a prevention method to avoid lice.
- Do not use a cream rinse, combination shampoo/conditioner, or conditioner on the hair before using the lice medicine.
- It is recommended that both the person getting treated and the person administering the treatment put on clean clothing after the treatment is completed in case any lice fall on to clothing.
- Be cautious not to use more than one head lice medication at time.
- Examine your child’s head again 8-12 hours after treatment,. If you see a few lice still around, but they are moving more slowly than before, do not re-treat. Comb the dead lice and any remaining live lice out of the hair using a fine-toothed nit/lice comb.
- To comb through the hair, sit in a well lighted area. Part the hair into small sections and comb through one section at a time. Be patient and thorough, it can take a lot of time.
- If no dead lice are found and lice appear to be as active as before 8-12 hours after treatment, the medicine may not be working. Do not re-treat until speaking with your GP or Health Visitor. Your health care provider may recommend using a different lice medicine.
- Re-treatment is generally recommended for most lice medicines after 9-10 days. This should kill any newly hatched lice before they produce new eggs. Be sure to follow the instructions for the product you are using.
- It is important to check the hair and comb through it with a nit comb every 2-3 days. This will help to remove nits and lice and can decrease the chance of self re-infestation. Do this for 2-3 weeks to be sure all lice and nits are gone.
- Wash combs, brushes, hats and other hair accessories of the affected person in hot water.
Tips for combing out head lice and nits:
- Use a fine-toothed louse or nit comb. These combs may be included within packages of medicated head lice treatment or you may buy one from most chemists. Combs with metal teeth spaced close together seem to work best.
- Sit behind your child, and use a bright light (and magnification if needed), to inspect and comb through the hair, one small section at a time.
- Repeat combing until no more active lice are observed.
- Comb daily until no live lice are discovered for two weeks. It may take several nights to tackle the problem.
- Adult female lice cement eggs to the base of a hair shaft near the skin. As the hair grows, eggs are moved away from the scalp. Eggs more than ¼ inch from the scalp are nearly always hatched and do not mean live lice are present.
- Combs, brushes, hats and other hair accessories in contact with someone who has had head lice should be washed in hot water each day to dislodge any lice or nits.
- Combing is sometimes painful to the child or it may be impractical for other reasons. In these cases, consider using conditioner on the hair as you comb through to help with tangles and allow the lice to be removed easily.
- Tying long hair back and spraying a light mist or hairspray over your child’s hair can make it more difficult for lice to get into the hair.
Treatment of clothes and other items:
- A clothes dryer set at high heat or a hot pressing iron will kill lice or their eggs on pillowcases, sheets, nightclothes, towels and similar items your child has been in contact with during the previous two days. (Lice and their eggs do not live more than one to two days off the head).
Deanna Stone, Pre-School Supervisor