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General Information about Head Lice

Head lice are insects that create problems and many concerns for families; they can affect anyone.  The head louse lays its eggs on the hair shaft near the scalp. A live louse and its eggs are most often found behind a child’s ears, in bangs, and at the base of the neck. They look like a fleck of dandruff, but do not come off the hair shaft unless you scrape them off with your fingernail. To help you deal with this common problem, the following preventative measures are suggested.
  1. Be mindful of early warning signs such as head scratching or the appearance of white specks that remain in the hair.
  2. Check your child’s head at least once a week throughout the school year.
  3. Inspect your child’s head especially before and after a group activity such as a slumber party or camping activities.
  4. Wash hats, scarves, hair ribbons, combs, brushes, and other hair accessories at least once a week.
  5. Remind your children not to share their hats, combs, brushes, barrettes, etc.
  6. Outer clothing that comes in contact with the head or neck should be washed frequently.

Notify neighbors, friends or playmates that have been in contact with your child that your child had head lice and is being treated. In spite of all these precautions, your child may still get head lice. Head lice do not discriminate between “dirty” hair and “clean” hair. All children may contract head lice if appropriate conditions occur.

If you suspect that your child may have head lice, please do not send your child to school. If a student is observed to have head lice and/or nits your child will be sent home. Dysart Unified School District has a “no nit” protocol. If a child is discovered to have head lice and/or nits, the Health Assistant and helpers will notify you and you will be expected to pick up your child from school.

On readmission to school, the student will have a head check with the parent/ guardian present.   If there are no live lice or nits, the student will be given a clearance slip for the teacher.  If nits are still present, the child will be sent home and excluded from school until there are no nits present.

Head Lice 101 information [PDF]

Frequently Asked Questions

Where do head lice come from?
Head lice have been around for thousands of years. Lice live off humans and are transmitted from person to person through direct contact.

Do head lice jump, hop or fly?
No. Head lice are wingless and do not have hind legs. They cannot jump, hop or fly. However, with their six legs, each with a claw, they can cling well to hair and crawl very fast.

Can you get head lice from an animal?
No. Head lice can live only on humans.

 How does one tell if a nit is dead or alive?
Treat all nits as if they were alive and remove all of them. The District has a no nit policy.

How long can head lice survive off a human?
Head lice survive less than one or two days if they fall off the scalp and cannot feed.

Can a person get head lice from a swimming pool?
Sharing a beach towel at the pool with someone that has head lice is one way to get head lice.

Should sprays be used in the house or schools to kill head lice?
No. Sprays can be toxic. Vacuuming is the best way to rid furniture and carpeting of head lice. It is vital that bed linens be washed and dried per the directions from Arizona Department of Health Services or the CDC.

Do head lice spread disease?
No. Head lice do not carry disease. They are just pests that can cause stress.

Can a person get head lice from sharing helmets or headsets?
Possibly. It is best not to share helmets or headsets; if a helmet or headset has been shared with a person who has lice wash it after use with hot soapy water or store it in a plastic bag for 14 days.

For more information refer to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention web site and/or the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Reviewed  2/21