How to Have “The Talk” with your Kid’s School

Why is there shame and embarrassment associated with lice?

Why are parents reluctant to talk to the staff at their children’s school if their child has lice?

There are something like 6-12 million cases of head lice each year. Your child’s school has dealt with lice before and they will deal with it again. school kidsThey have some sort of a procedure in place for when these little bugs show up. If possible, it is best to know what the procedure is prior to any lice infestation. That way you will know who to contact and what to expect before anyone is feeling any actual worry.

Why the Embarrassment?

The first thing to consider is why there is embarrassment associated with lice. It is common to think that having lice somehow reflects poorly on someone’s hygiene. Perhaps other parents or the school will think that your home is not clean enough or that you don’t keep your children clean.

However, lice don’t care if their environment is clean or dirty. Lice simply need a human scalp with hair on it to survive. That head could be clean or dirty and could live in a pristine home or a poorly maintained house. There really is no correlation. The point is, there is no good reason for being embarrassed about your child having lice.

Lice are spread almost exclusively through head to head contact with an infested person. That means that children end up getting lice simply by being cute little children playing and interacting with their peers. Sometimes parents will have to care for a sick child because of this interaction or deal with lice, but it is not a poor reflection on your parenting! Keep this in mind, too, if it is another parent’s child that has lice.

Remember, school nurses, teachers, and staff have been dealing with lice throughout their careers. Usually they are a source of calm when parents get hysterical. They know the facts. Head lice have nothing to do with hygiene and cleanliness. They don’t cause any health problems. They will go away and getting rid of them doesn’t have to be that hard.  

Part of what has gotten parents so worked up in the past has been the idea that it is a huge problem to deal with lice. And, in the past, it has been difficult to deal with head lice. However, there is a highly effective method available to you that I will describe at the end of this blog.

Due to the panic that lice have induced in the past, many schools used to have what are known as “no-nit” policies. That is to say, children were not supposed to be in school until there were no live lice or nits (eggs) in their hair. The trouble is, nits do not spread. They are attached to the hair shaft with what is essentially a glue. Additionally, it is very common to mistake other things like dandruff, scabs, or other material for nits.

The CDC along with other organizations now distinguish between an active infestation (crawling lice) and other evidence of lice such as nits. These organizations do not support no-nit policies because they are unnecessary and keep children out of school for much too long.  

The Basics

Here is a list to make things simple

  1. Know what your school’s lice policy is at the beginning of the year before there are any issues.
  2. Remember that a lice infestation is not an issue of hygiene or cleanliness so you don’t need to feel embarrassed.
  3. If your child ends up with lice, let the appropriate person at their school know as soon as possible.
  4. Get rid of the lice!

How to Check Number 4 Off the List

That last point on the list may sound difficult, but it doesn’t need to be. The traditional methods of dealing with lice involve shampoos and combing along with re-checking and re-combing the hair to be sure all the nits are removed.
However, the Lice Clinics of America are changing that multi-step process. These clinics offer a simple and effective service that will take care of both the lice and nits in one 90 minute treatment. There are no chemicals involved and you won’t need to continually re-check your child’s head for the next couple of weeks. Check out the nearest clinic and schedule an appointment or have it ready to go as part of your plan for dealing with lice.