School Health Head Lice Information

What are head lice (Pediculosis)

Head lice are tiny, wingless, insects that live and breed in human hair. They move quickly when you part the hair and are hard to see. Newly-laid eggs are firmly glued to the hair and are found very close to the scalp

Head lice eggs:

  • Are very small – about half the size of a pinhead
  • Are grey to brown in colour
  • Can take about 7 - 10 days to hatch

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Head lice facts

  • Head lice have nothing to do with lack of cleanliness – anyone can get lice
  • Head lice are a nuisance, but they do not cause illness
  • Head lice is not a public health problem because lice do not transmit disease

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How to know if a student has head lice

  • Live head lice in the hair – can be difficult to see because these greyish insects move quickly when hair is parted
  • Eggs of head louse – the eggs will be pinhead in size, the colour of the scalp and glued to the hair shaft less than ½ inch away from the scalp
    • Do not worry about any eggs more than ½ inch from the scalp. These are empty white shells of eggs that have hatched and are not a problem
  • An itchy scalp - but you can have head lice for a long time before the scalp gets itchy

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Halton Region school board policies for a student with head lice

Notes:

  • Public Health does not provide a service for head lice check-in
  • Halton schools have contracts with We Care Home Health services in the community that deals with the management
    • Contact We Care at 905-507-2273 or 1-866-877-8688

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When a student can return to school

  • Treatment to the hair must be done and all nits removed before re-entry
  • Parents must contact We Care to get a note for school re-entry
  • Call We Care to find out further information
    • We Care can be reached at 905-507-6562 OR AT 1-855-507-6562

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How to clean a classroom after an infestation

  • For head lice – normal routine cleaning is sufficient.
  • There is no evidence that head lice are passed on through contact with personal items so no cleaning is necessary
  • Pesticide sprays should never be used as they are dangerous to your health and are unnecessary

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What is re-infestation?

  • Re-infestation is determined by finding new nits ½ inch away or less from the scalp or by finding adult head lice
  • When head lice keep coming back it is almost always due to a head-to-head contact with an untreated individual
  • Try to determine why a re-infestation is occurring as it will decrease the need to keep retreating with head lice products.
  • When re-infestation occurs, have parents check with their pharmacist or doctor to see if the head lice treatment should be repeated
  • Remember, none of these head lice killing products are ever to be used on a daily basis
  • The problem with re-infestation is not due to a resistance to the head lice killing product, but rather to not following product guidelines and not using the product correctly. Please re-read carefully.

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What are some strategies to share with parent's?

  • Teach children to brush and comb their hair vigorously every night. This will injure the head lice and prevent them from breeding
  • Braiding long hair and putting it into a ponytail may be helpful
  • Parents can check their child’s head once a week, especially around the ears and the neck area
  • Advise parents to be especially watchful after group activities, such as sleepovers and camps, where head-to-head contact could have occurred

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Where can I refer parents with head lice concerns?

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