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Health Care

Lice - Tips, Tricks and Policies

Dear Families,

It is the beginning of the school year and there are already several children being treated for head lice at Mar Vista Elementary. The most common symptom of lice is an itchy scalp or the feeling that something is moving in the hair. If you find that your child has head lice, it should be treated as soon as possible to prevent it from getting worse or spreading to other children at the school. Treatment for head lice is time consuming but there are home service providers to assist you (Hair Whisperers, Hair Fairies, Lousey Nitpickers). Preventative products can be obtained over-the-counter. For detailed information about head lice, please visit the Center for Disease Control website at http://www.cdc.gov/lice/head/.

Head Lice Prevention Tips:

  • Keep your children’s hair short or pull their hair back every day, not just when you find out about an infestation. This refers to boys as well as girls.
  • Encourage your kids not to touch heads with other kids while playing.  Young girls especially love to hug each other.  And while it is wonderful that they are affectionate, this is also a great way to spread lice.  Encourage them to give each other high fives or invent special handshakes instead.
  • Talk to your children about not sharing hats, brushes, etc.
  • Products that contain tea-tree oil or eucalyptus oil can be put in your child’s hair to help repel live bugs. These can be found in pharmacies or online.
  • Check your child’s hair every week or two to catch things early. Lice are very small and camouflage easily so it is a good idea is to do a comb-through treatment every month to stay proactive.
  • Check hair when it is dry as it is more difficult to see nits/bugs when hair is wet.
  • Check hair in bright light, daylight is best so checking outside is recommended.

Head Lice Treatment Tips:

  • Many products sold over the counter and/or in the pharmacy (i.e. RID) are not very effective and somewhat toxic, some research indicates that lice have built a resistance to them.
  • One of the most important tools to have is a metal-toothed nit comb. These can be purchased at pharmacies or online.
  • The steps for treatment (as advised by lice treatment companies) are:

-       Wet hair with a spray bottle of water.

-       Apply conditioner to make the hair smooth and easy to comb.

-       Comb the hair first from the middle part down toward the ears on both sides of the head.

-       After every combing, wipe the comb on a white towel (where they show up best) and keep track of how many nits/bugs you comb out.

-       Once you can comb through one side without finding any nits, comb the other side of the head the same way.

-       Next, comb from front to back on both sides, then back to front.

-       Finally, comb from the ear to the crown of the head on both sides.

-       Do each section until you don’t see any more nits on the towel when you wipe the comb.

-       After combing is complete, thoroughly dry the hair with a blow dryer.

-       Search the hair by separating sections little by little to check for nits missed when combing.

-       Pull any nits found off with your fingernails, wiping your fingers on the towel each time.

 

When you have completed this process, you should be done. Don’t forget that you also need to treat your home as well.

  • Wash everything that comes in contact with the affected person such as pillowcases, blankets, stuffed animals, back pack, hair bands, clothes, etc.
  • Every morning, it’s important to strip the pillowcases and sheets/blankets off beds and wash them. 
  • Lice do not burrow, so they will not get into a pillow or mattress. 
  • It is recommended that you wash in 120-degree temperature water to kill any live bugs. 
  • Tea Tree oil and/or eucalyptus-based product as a laundry additive is an extra precaution along with regular laundry detergent.
  • It’s a good idea to vacuum sofa cushions and carpets regularly, especially after coming in direct contact with someone who’s being treated.

 

At home remedies could also include putting mayonnaise or olive oil in the hair and covering it with a shower cap. Sleep with it in the hair, then comb out the next morning. The detailed comb-out process still remains as a critical part of the treatment. As with any hygiene issue, it’s important to wash your hands carefully after treating someone as well as washing the nit comb or anything else that comes in contact with the hair.

 

VERY IMPORTANT! You must treat a person every 3-4 days for a total of 3-4 times (turns out to be about a 2-3 week process) to be sure you’re totally rid of lice. When they first lay eggs, those eggs are microscopic and will not be easily seen or combed out. You need to give them a few days to mature and then do the comb through process again. You must continue to wash belongings and vacuum non-washables during the entire 2-3 week period. It is also possible to put certain items you won’t need on a daily basis into airtight plastic bags and put them in a garage or storage place for 2-3 weeks. This should kill the bugs, but it is recommended that you vacuum or wash them before using them again.

 

It is our hope that if we educate parents and children about preventive measures and arm ourselves with the best strategy for eradicating lice, that we can help decrease the amount of time and energy we all have to spend on treating lice.

 

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

 

Mar Vista PTA

Child Advocacy Committee

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