Latest research shows that 1 in 4 parents still think schools check for head lice and that 45% of parents want schools to take a more active role in dealing with them.
The 'Once a Week, Take a Peek' campaign educates parents on the need to check their children's hair regularly for lice as a normal part of their family's personal hygiene routine and then to take swift action should any be found.
We can fight the spread of head lice but we need to all work together.
Although this campaign’s emphasis is very much on parents taking responsibility and action there is still a real and valuable role for schools to play in keeping head lice infestations to a minimum. The same applies to childcare centres, nurseries, and indeed any organisation that works with children.
Within most schools at any one time, there will be a small number of children infected with head lice. Infection levels remain fairly constant so we need your help to combat the bugs!
As a school it is our job to ensure parents/carers are provided with the advice and support to effectively detect and treat cases of head lice affecting their own children.
We understand your frustrations and concerns regarding head lice. Here are some answers to your questions:-
It remains parental responsibility to detect and administer treatment for head lice to their own children.
This is not an option. The Department for Children, Schools and Families advises that pupils should not be excluded. The reason for this is that although head lice are unpleasant it is not classed as an infectious disease, which warrants keeping a pupil away from school. Also we are informed by the Health Authority that head lice is relatively difficult to pass from one person to another and they have advised that prolonged head to head contact is required to transfer head lice from one head to another.
Most schools are likely to have a few pupils with head lice at any one time. On that basis, ‘alert’ letters could potentially be required every day of the school year. ‘Alert’ letters also frequently lead parents to attempt to treat their children preventatively, which is neither effective nor advised. Head lice infection cannot be prevented, and over-use of insecticide treatments may lead to resistance.
Although schools no longer have ‘nit nurses’ or do termly checks we do still have an important role in supporting parents in managing the problem. By working closely with parents and our pupils and promoting the head lice ‘Once a week, take a peek’, we can hopefully make a difference. If your child is suspected of having head lice we will inform you and request that you check your child and treat if necessary.
As previously mentioned it is parental responsibility to detect and administer treatment for head lice to their own children. We would like you to check your child for head lice once a week using a nit comb which are available from the local chemist, From time to time you will receive ‘Once a week, take a peek’ messages to remind you of our campaign to ‘take a peek!’ in your child’s hair. This is a reminder to check your child’s hair as head lice don’t always cause an itchy scalp (head) so many people will be unaware that they are infected. We understand girls like to wear their hair down but we do request that long hair is tied up to minimise head to head contact in school.
Treating head lice is not a problem. Detection and effective ongoing treatment of head lice is key to reducing the outbreaks.
If you still find live lice after you finish the treatment either its failed or there has been a re-infestation. If the treatment failed you’ll usually find lice of all stages but a re-infestation will have less lice if discovered quickly. You’ll need to treat again so make sure:
Wet combing method.
The wet combing (‘bug-busting’) method is physically removing lice using a nit comb, without using chemical treatments. This method can be helpful because head lice are growing increasingly resistant to the insecticides used to remove them.
However, success depends on adopting a painstaking approach of regular and thorough combing.
The best procedure is as follows:
Medicated lotion or rinse
Ask your pharmacist for an over-the-counter insecticide lotion or dimeticone (non-insecticide) lotion. Only use a lotion if you find a living (moving) head louse.
Apply the preparation according to the instructions, and remove the lice and eggs with a fine-toothed nit comb. Take care when applying treatment, because the preparations are usually toxic.
The normal advice is to treat once, and repeat seven days later:
Make sure you have enough lotion to treat all those affected in your family.
The lotion may be capable of killing eggs, as well as lice, but there is no certainty of this. Check for baby lice hatching out from eggs three to five days after you use it, and again at 10-12 days.
No treatment is 100% effective.
If the lice appear to be unaffacted by the product (some lice may have developed resistance to a particular insecticide) or if the problem persists, take advice from your school nurse, health visitor, pharmacist or GP.
Always ask for advice before using medicated lotions on young babies (under six months), pregnant women or people with asthma or allergies, and always read the instructions carefully.
Pregnant women are advised to use either wet combing or dimeticone, which is licensed for use in pregnancy and breastfeeding
To diagnose a case of head lice you need to find them alive. This is when you need to use a treatment. They move fast and are small – so they can be hard to find!
Head lice range in sizes from a full stop to a sesame seed.
Where to Peek:
What to Peek for:
Checking for lice might not be your idea of fun but it’s really no big deal and shouldn’t be a stressful experience for you or your child. It is just a normal part of every family’s personal hygiene routine, like brushing your teeth or washing your hair, so a good time to do it would be watching the TV or at bath-time. You could make this experience even more stress-free by:
Good lighting is important and so is comfort! Comb for lice, parting hair in small sections and returning from time to time to areas you’ve already covered just to make sure.
Head lice are live insects. Their empty eggs are called nits. Lice are wingless insects that hold on to the hair, feeding from the blood in the scalp. They spread through head-to-head contact but contrary to common belief, they do not jump. Adult females live for up to a month and lay around five eggs a day.
Head lice are seen as an established part of school life – as children spend so much time playing and learning together, it is very easy for them to spread.
Lice spread when heads come in contact so sleepovers, after-school activities, playing with friends and visiting family are also common places for children, and adults, to pick them up and pass them on.
7 Key Head Lice Facts: