Managing head lice in the classroom

As an educator, you’re naturally concerned about your students’ health and know firsthand that head lice are a major nuisance in schools. Consider some of the following factors when managing head lice in your classroom:

Anyone can get head lice. While boys seem to be less likely to get head lice than girls, possibly due to typically having shorter hair, any child can become infested. Furthermore, head lice know no socioeconomic or ethnic boundaries, although African-American children are infested less often than other children.

Not everyone experiences an itchy scalp. The students in your class might not be scratching their heads, but they could still be under attack from head lice. Not all infested people have an itchy scalp. So when there’s a head lice outbreak, all children must be checked.

Parents have new options in over-the-counter treatments. Today more than ever, there are different options for parents seeking an over-the-counter treatment. Traditional pesticide-based treatments are not the only choice — pesticide-free products, such as Vamousse, are now readily available without prescription in mass retailers and pharmacies nationwide.

Institute proactive classroom policies. Head lice attack up to 12 million American kids each year. While you can’t stop head lice from entering your classroom, you can take a proactive approach to helping your students stay lice-free. For example, sharing personal belongings like hats, helmets, brushes, combs, hair bows, or any item that’s likely to come in contact with hair is off-limits during an outbreak of head lice. In fact, students should keep their belongings separate from one another at all times. And hugging and close contact should be discouraged.

Telling parents. If you’re the one notifying parents of a head lice outbreak, or even breaking the news that their child is infested, remember to reassure parents that head lice do not spread disease and they don’t discriminate. Ask parents to check their child’s hair daily and follow preventative measures at home, including routine head checks using a lice comb.