Head lice return to schools
October 7, 2008
By Chantelle Lusebrink
A half-dozen schools in the Issaquah School District have issued warnings about head lice.
“While this is definitely a serious issue, it’s common and not one that should be overly anxiety-inducing for parents,” said Sara Niegowski, district communications director. “With good prevention and treatment, lice are manageable.”“It’s like anything, like strep throat,” said Kim Rocco, school nurse at Sunny Hills and Discovery elementary schools. “Some kids get it and others don’t. It has nothing to do with hygiene or money.
“They just want a warm head and any head will do,” she said of the lice.
Rocco has seen 13 cases of head lice this fall from her two schools.
Once lice are detected, parents should inform their children’s school immediately so a warning notice can go out. In that notice, the identity of the student(s) is not given for confidentiality reasons. The notice is to let other parents know they need to routinely check their children for lice.
Parents of students with lice should also inform those in any other group activities their child participates in or family relatives who have been to their home recently.
A shampoo is used to kill living bugs, Rocco said, but shampoos won’t kill the eggs, which feel and look like small hot-glue gun drops at the shaft of the hair follicle, she said.
The best way to remove the eggs is to pick them out of your child’s hair. Once those steps have been followed, the student can be examined by school nursing staff and returned to classes, according to the district’s head lice policy.
Parents should monitor their children’s hair in coming weeks and treat as necessary. Parents of small children especially should check their children’s hair nightly or every week as a precautionary measure, in bright, natural daylight, Rocco said.
But living in the Pacific Northwest, there isn’t always abundant sunshine, she added, so find a bright lamp or light that you can use to get close to your child’s head.
It is important to check students in middle and high school. To help prevent older children from contracting head lice, make sure they know not to share hats or other personal items, like brushes or combs.