If you have school-aged children, there is a good chance that you will experience the dreaded “there has been a lice outbreak at your child’s school” letter your child is destined to come home with. There are a lot of misconceptions about head lice, and we’re here to share our knowledge with you.
What are Head Lice
Scientifically known as ‘Pediculus humanus capitis’, head lice are very small greyish-brown insects that live on the human scalp. They and their eggs are very small, and are difficult to see. The eggs take 9-10 days to hatch, sticking to strands of hair close to the scalp.
Who Can Get Head Lice?
Anyone with hair is susceptible to getting head lice. You do not have to have poor hygiene to get lice. It is a common myth that head lice jump from head to head. Head lice do not have wings, and cannot jump or fly from one person to another. Another common myth is that those living in poverty are more likely to get head lice. Head lice can affect the rich, the poor and the middle class.
How are Head Lice Transmitted?
If the head lice cannot jump or fly, how is it transmitted? Good question! Head to head contact is the most common way to transmit head lice, or directly sharing items that has been in contact with someone who has head lice (items such as scarves, hats, pillows, stuffed animals).
It is incredibly important not to treat anyone for head lice unless live lice are found. When someone in your household has head lice, each member of the family should be checked. There are various treatment options for someone with head lice:
There are currently two Health Canada approved insecticides for treating head lice
*These products are safe on humans over the age of 2 months old.
- Isopropyl Myristate/Cyclomethicone**
- Silicone Oil Dimeticon***
- Benzyl Alcohol Lotion 5%
**Only for use in children age 2 and over.
***Only for use in children age 4 and over.
Should I Keep My Child Home From School?
It is unnecessary to keep your child home from school. As long as they are being treated for lice, they are able to attend school and other activities as usual. Unless the school as a ‘no lice’ or ‘no-nit’ policy treat your children with one of the methods above and send them to the bus stop as normal.
Preventing Head Lice
Teach your child to avoid head-to-head contact with other people. Also teach them not to share items that come into contact with hair, such as hair brushes, hats or hair accessories.
Keeping Others Lice Free
If you or your child are receiving home care services, either from Freiheit Care Inc. or another organization, please inform them that your child has head lice. This allows the company to ensure they will be cautious when coming into contact with your or your child’s hair.
When to See Your Health Care Provider?
Contact your health care provider if treatment is unsuccessful, or the lice are frequently recurring. If you are unsure of what treatment is best suited for you, or if your child is younger than four years old, please contact your health care provider for advice. Some treatments are not suitable for young children.