National Guidance on Managing Head Lice Infection in Children
Annex 4 Head lice: notes and guidance for head teachers, heads of establishments or managers of services for children
Head louse infection is not primarily a problem of schools but of the wider community.
It cannot be solved by the school, but the school can help educate the local community
to deal with it.
Head lice are only transmitted by direct, head to head contact.
Head lice will not be eradicated in the foreseeable future, but a sensible, informed approach, based on fact not mythology, will help to limit the problem. Education of parents in reliable detection is the first step towards overcoming the head lice problem.
At any one time, most schools will have a few children who have active infection with head lice. This is often between 0% and 5%, rarely more.
Ensure you have a written protocol on the management of head lice infection, based on the national guidance.
Ensure that your school nurse is informed in confidence of cases of head louse infection. The school nurse will assess the individual report and may decide to make confidential contact with the parents to offer information, advice and support.
Keep individual reports confidential, and encourage your staff to do likewise.
Collaborate with your school nurse in providing educational information to your parents and children about head lice, but do not wait until there is a perceived "outbreak". Send out information on a regular basis reminding parents of their responsibility to check their children's hair at least once a week using the wet combing method.
Consider asking your school nurse to arrange a talk to parents at the school if they are very concerned. Be present yourself and encourage your staff to attend. Some schools organise workshops for parents of P1 children. Others hold 'bug busting' awareness weeks to educate and encourage both children and parents/carers to check for head lice at home on a weekly basis.
Ensure, with the school nurse, that your parents are given regular and reliable information, including instructions on proper diagnosis by detection/wet combing, the avoidance of unnecessary or inappropriate treatments, and the thorough and adequate treatment
of definitely confirmed infections and their contacts using either an insecticidal lotion
or the 'bug busting' technique as described in the national guidance.
Advise concerned parents to seek the professional advice of the school nurse, the family practice, or a pharmacist.
Ensure that all new parents are given contact details and information about the role of the school nurse.
"Alert letters" should never be sent out to other parents.
Children who have, or are thought to have, head lice should not be excluded from school.
The 'Bug Buster Kit' is now available for prescribing by health professionals. Only one kit is required for a family and it is reusable. The kit, which includes an illustrated guide and combs, is available from some pharmacies and by mail order from:
Community Hygiene Concern (Charity reg no: 801371)
6 - 9 Manor Gardens
Help Line: 020 7686 4321
(This document has been adapted from appendix 4 of Head Lice: a Report for Consultants in Communicable Disease Control (CCDCs).)