ISD DentonHead Lice Information Sheet
Lice are fairly common wherever groups of people get together, including the school setting. Many people have concerns about the spread of disease with head lice, but these insects do not spread disease. They do, however, live by biting the scalp and eating the blood that comes from that bite, which causes some itching, and sometimes sores if the scratching gets really bad. Those sores caused by the scratching can become infected, which causes a bigger health problem than the head lice themselves. Having head lice is not a matter of being dirty or having poor hygiene. Lice simply look for the opportunity to get to anyone’s head that they can crawl to. Lice cannot fly or jump…they crawl, and they prefer to stay on people’s heads where they get food.
That’s why early detection and treatment is very important. Your child’s school nurse is a great resource for answering questions about head lice. Because it is a fairly common condition in public places where large numbers of people gather, school nurses have a lot of experience in dealing with head lice, and can help make the best decision about when students should be sent home when this condition is seen.
We can tell that people have head lice from either seeing the live insects in the hair (they are very fast…you have to look hard to see them) or by seeing their eggs attached to the hair. Those eggs are called “nits” and are very firmly attached to the hair shaft by a cement-like glue. You can tell nits from other things in the hair, like dandruff or other deposits on the hair such as hair casts or sprays, gel, etc. by the shape of them, and because they don’t move when the hair is moved…they are very tiny almond-shaped specks and they are stuck firmly to the hair. Those eggs hatch out into adult lice every 7-10 days, adult lice live for about 20-30 days, and each female insect can lay up to 50 new eggs during that time!
So you can see why early detection and prompt treatment are so very important. Call your school nurse if you have questions, she’ll be glad to help.