Head Lice

Facts EVERYONE Should Know About Head Lice

1. Schools are NOT the most common place where head lice spread, even though schools have been blamed in the past. 

2. School nurses are supportive advocates who will help you decide what treatment is best for your child. School nurses will assist you in checking or rechecking as you work to remove nits and lice from your child’s head. Just ask. 

3. School nurses will not judge you or tell others if you ask for assistance in dealing with head lice. We handle lice in a confidential manner. We know that ANY family can catch them, and most of us who are parents have been through it at least once ourselves. 

4. Head lice are NOT a sign of uncleanness; they love clean hair because it is easier to latch on. 

5. Lice do not hop, jump or fly; the only way they can get from one person to another is by direct touching, head to head. 

6. Lice are not passed on pets. The only place head lice can survive and thrive is on the human head. 

7. When found, most cases of head lice are already more than a month old. One sign is a red rash on the back of the neck, just below the hairline. 

8. Head lice can only live 24 hours off of a human. Each head louse can lay up to 10 nits (eggs) a day. 

9. Because of use and overuse of head lice shampoos, head lice have become resistant to the products that once would kill them, so no head lice product is 100% effective, even if you follow the directions to the letter. That is why combing and nit removal are important. 

10. Never treat or re-treat “just in case” in the absence of live lice. Head lice products are pesticides, which are toxic if overused and can be absorbed through the skin. Follow the directions carefully. 

11. Removing the nits (eggs) and live lice with a special metal tooth comb is time-consuming but the most effective way to get rid of them. Head lice and nits DO NOT wash out. 

12. Healthy lice stay close to the scalp until they sense another human head. They cannot survive without blood. That is why they bite. 

13. Head lice are not a source of infection or disease; they are simply a nuisance. 

14. The most effective screening occurs when parents check their own children at home, treat if any are found, and make efforts to remove the nits. 

15. One of the biggest challenges in eliminating head lice is parents’ discomfort in communicating about the problem with other parents when they find head lice, so they are more easily passed back and forth among close friends and relatives. 

16. You will always be able to find websites that promote drastic measures like sprays, special products, and “no nits” policies. Pay attention to the source! Many of these websites are either not based on up-to-date research or are commercial sites that are in the business of selling a product. It is in their interest to keep the “Head Lice Hysteria” alive. Otherwise, there go their profits. 

17. Nit and lice removal is tedious, but there are some simple products that may help. Vinegar, real mayonnaise, olive oil, and Dawn dish soap all have their fans, even though none of these has been proven. The way they seem to help is to loosen the “cement” that the nits use to attach to the hair shaft. 

18. Shaving the head or cutting the hair will not affect how easily a child gets lice, though these make nit removal easier. Don’t do this unless your child agrees. A child’s self-esteem is much more important than a few missed nits. 

19. Grandma’s old remedy of kerosene for head lice does not work and is dangerous! Children have died from inhaling the vapors or from being burned, because it is highly flammable. Never use kerosene!!! 

20. Most schools want children with head lice to be treated and back in school right away.