Helpful Information for School Nurses

Finding head lice on students can be stressful for both the staff and children. Here you'll find tips to share with your parents as well as printables and links to studies.

Examples of School Lice Policies:

Many schools or school districts take different approaches when it comes to head lice policies in their schools. There are a three main policies.

No Nit

No nit policies require a student to be free of nits and bugs before they can return to school.

Live Bugs Only

Live bug only policy indicates students must be free of all live bugs before they can return to school. Nits in the hair are ok. Some believe that if all lice bugs are out and only nits remain then the case is no longer active.

No Exclusions for Head Lice

Parents are notified of their child's case of head lice, but are allowed to stay in school. Children are not excluded from school because of head lice. It is expected that parents treat before the next day.

Which policy is best?
There are many reasons, benefits and negatives to each of these policies. While it may be best to send children home when head lice is detected and not have them return until they are free from lice and nits, it's not always possible. Many parents try for weeks or even months to get rid of head lice, but just can't seem to get rid of it. That can be costly when missing work not to mention that burden on the child missing school.

Is there a happy medium when it comes to policies?
Is it possible to have a policy where school nurses, parents and children are satisfied? School nurses understand that in the grand scheme of things, head lice is not that bad. After all, it is the thought of head lice and lack of understanding of how to get rid of it which is the worst part. Parents think that their child having head lice is the worst thing they could go through as a parent and kids tend to fall somewhere in the middle. Having a policy and a note sent home that helps parents de-stress and take the overreactions from parents away from the nurse is a great place to start.

Here are some important points to help create a head lice policy/note to parents:

  • When recommending treatments manual removal of head lice with a good head lice comb should be the first recommendation as it is also the safest. Prescription strength pesticides are meant to be a “when all else fails” last ditch effort.
  • It is important to inform parents of all treatment options as well as any risks.
  • Educating parents on the fact that head lice do not live in the environment and focusing on the head should be a priority that is stressed
  • There are professional head lice services that may be a valued resource for you and your parents. These companies can help provide proper education to staff and some may even provide back to school notes after treatment; relieving school staff of the responsibility of checking and enforcing policies. Many companies are certified lice professionals with in depth training and receive up to date information on head lice research, product information and treatment options. Click here for a list of professionals in your area.
  • Because itching is due to an allergic reaction to head lice saliva not everyone with head lice will itch. So, all students need to be screened
  • Screenings that do not include people of certain ethnicities should be abandoned as any human can get head lice. There are no exceptions based on ethnicities or hair texture.
  • Constant communication informing parents of newly detected cases of head lice by Informing all parents/caregivers via notes, emails, or school wide phone message is important to help both parents and schools work as a team.

When Lice is Discovered:

As you already know, parents do not need to bug out!
For many parents, they cannot imagine anything worse than getting the call that their child has lice. They may call or come to you already bugging out. Unfortunately, helping calm them down is not always fun. This site is here to help!

Hand the parents an informational card
For many families this may be the first time they deal with having lice and have no idea what to do next. You can send us an email at info@letslearnaboutlice.com and we will gladly send your office information cards for your parents at no charge. This will go over everything they need to not bug out. You can also get a printable version below.

Recommend manual nit removal
Recommending manual head lice removal with a good head lice comb helps reduce the exposure to pesticides. The products people use to treat head lice are often more dangerous than having head lice. Over the counter products with chemicals and prescription treatments could always be used as a last ditch effort.

Refer them to a professional
Professional lice removal specialists have so many benefits besides the service of removal. They can thoroughly check all household members to make sure parents are treating only those affected by lice. Also, in some cases head lice has been misdiagnosed and no treatment is needed at all. Professionals also sell the best lice combs. This is extremely important because having the right comb can save hours of combing especially on long, thick hair. In addition, most lice professionals sell only products free from chemicals that are safe, non-toxic and effective. Most importantly, they have the right information to save parents a lot of time and energy spent on getting rid of lice. Many parents feel much less stressed after speaking with or visiting a professional.

Common Myths:

Mayonnaise​​, Olive Oil, Vaseline/Petroleum Jelly
These products are used in hopes of suffocating head lice. Head lice are able to shut down their bodies for long periods of time even fully submerged in substances meant to kill them. These products may suffocate the bugs if used for hours on end, they do not kill the eggs.

Cetaphil also known as the Nuvo method
This dry on suffocation method was created by a dermatologist who has unfortunately admitted that this method was nothing more than a get rich scheme. Originally known dubbed as the Nuvo method and charged $284 for the lotion, it was actual the Cetaphil face cleanser. Click here for articles explaining this.

Apple vinegar, white vinegar, Coca Cola
It is assumed that these products help dissolve the glue that holds the eggs to the hair shalft. This glue make up is similar to human hair. Substances found to dissolve the glue also dissolve the hair.

Spraying the house down and bagging everything for weeks
False! Lice sprays are money wasting gimmicks as head lice do not live in the environment. Because head lice is mistakenly grouped in with body lice in their stigma of hygiene and often times research: many believe that because body lice lay eggs in clothing and survive for days away from a human host that bagging items will help kill head lice and their eggs. A louse found off the head is usually injured or dying.

You know when you contact head lice right away
False! Head lice symptoms can take 24 hours to 4 weeks to show up. Some people are asymptomatic meaning they never develop symptoms. Most case of head lice are not discovered until 3-5 weeks later.

Eggs more than a quarter inch off the scalp are dead
False! This situation should take in climate and humidty. Because there is no way to know when an egg was laid exactly without looking under a microscope you do not know when eggs will or will not hatch. To remove to risk of eggs hatching starting the life cycle over again all eggs must be removed.

Quick Lice Facts to Share:

Lice cannot hop, jump or fly and in most cases only transfer from direct head to head contact.

Animal lice and head lice are different. We cannot give lice to our pets and they cannot give it to us.

Lice die off the head within 24 hours.

Not everyone itches, but for those who do, itching can last up to two weeks

Eggs are not contagious

All eggs must be removed

Printables in One Place:

Please note: These informational handouts are the same with different headings for you to use as you specifically need. If there are other handouts, letters or forms that you would like a sample of, please fill out the contact us form and we will do our best to get it on this site.

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