Mira Monte School
1216 Loma Drive Ojai, California 93023
Mrs. Katherine White, Principal
(805) 640 - 4384
September 22, 2009
Throughout the country, head lice have become an increasingly common problem. The good news is that we can avoid having a large and continuing problem at our school if we all take steps now to prevent it.
It is relatively easy to get rid of head lice if they are detected early. It is when the problem has been going on for a long time that the lice and eggs become so numerous it is difficult to eliminate them.
Head lice are spread by direct contact. Please remind your child not to share hats, clothing, hair accessories, combs or brushes with any of their friends.
However, especially with younger children who come in close contact with each other during the day, this prevention measure alone is not enough. It is strongly suggested that parents take a few minutes regularly to examine their child’s scalp as part of their hygiene routine.
The best place to look is at the nape of the neck, ideally in direct sunlight. Make a part in your child’s hair and look at the scalp for signs of small, many-legged oval bugs or of their eggs (*nits) which are pearly, tear-drop shapes about the size of a period that are usually laid an inch or so up the hair shaft. You know if it is a nit if it is difficult to remove (they stick like glue to the hair shaft).
One clue that your child has lice is that he or she may be scratching at the back of their head or behind the ears. The very top of the head also seems to be a favorite nesting place for the critters.
What to do if your child has head lice:
Research has found that many of the over-the-counter head lice shampoos are not effective. Lice seem to have become resistant to these. The prescription product, lindane, can be toxic - especially if overused. The National Pediculosis Association recommends that rather than using these pesticide products, and using them over and over again, parents should spend their time removing lice and nits by hand. However, please check with your family doctor whenever possible for further advice regarding the prescription medications that are available as well as suggestions for the better over-the-counter shampoos.
Picking the nits by hand is time consuming, but it is the best way. The NPA suggest using safety scissors to snip out individual hairs with attached nits. Nit combing tools that do not always work for nit removal can work to comb out critters. Since head lice move quickly throughout the head, it may be helpful to have at least two people checking an infested person at the same time.
It is wise to examine your child’s head at least every other day for at least a week after your first lice and nit removal session to be sure you have removed everything. Even one hatched nit can start the whole cycle over again!
The NPA urges parents to avoid using lice spray. Vacuuming cars, rugs and furniture is safe and effective. They say, “Parents need not exhaust their physical and emotional selves by obsessive house cleaning and ‘bagging’. Parents should save their energies for that which pays them the most benefit: manual removal of both lice and eggs from the infested individuals.”
It is also recommended that you wash all clothing and bedding that has come in contact with your child in hot water and dry it in a dryer, or dry clean it (or put it in a plastic bag for two weeks).
If you find head lice on your child, please report it to the office so that the other children in their class can be checked.
PREVENTION IS THE KEY. Thank you for being vigilant and helping us stay lice free at Mira Monte School.
Principal, Mira Monte School