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Head Lice Protocol and Helpful Tips for Families

Friday, September 29, 2017
Sunday, October 01, 2017
Sunday, October 01, 2017

​A common protocol has been established to provide a standard practice for all elementary schools in the management of head lice in schools.  As part of this protocol, both schools and parents play a role in head lice prevention and treatment.   Roles and responsibilties as per this protocol are as follows:

-Parents/guardians should learn how to recognize head lice and routinely check their children.

-When a child has head lice the parent/guardian should notify the school.

-If the parent/guardian becomes aware that the child has head lice, or the school identifies that a student has head lice, the school must notify the other parents/guardians with children in the same class.

-Upon treatment, a signed Confirmation of Treatment form will be required before a student who returns to school following head lice treatment goes back to the classroom. This form will indicate that the parent/guardian has treated the child with a treatment product according to the product instructions; the parent/guardian is aware that a second treatment is required 7-10 days from the first treatment to kill any newly hatched lice; and that the parent/guardian has examined the child's hair following treatment and has found no evidence of live lice.

-If a returning student is not free of live lice, the parent/guardian will be contacted by the school and arrangements will made for the child to return home to be re-treated.  When there is evidence of a treatment failure (detection of live lice), using a full course of topical treatment from a different class of medication is recommended.

-When a student experiences repeated incidents of head lice, the principal may consult with the SMDHU through Health Connection for written information to share about head lice, situational management advice, and/or consultation for school staff/parents/guardians.  The Canadian Pediatric Society found that school wide screening programs have not been shown to have a significant effect on the incidence of head lice in schools​ and are discouraged. 

-If you would like to see the full policy and procedures around head lice management in the SCDSB, please contact the office.

Background Information 

Head lice are not a health hazard or disease, but a social nuisance. They are most common in children between the ages of 3 and 12.


Head lice are spread primarily by direct​ head-to head contact with an infested person; however, it is still recommended that parents/guardians discourage their children from sharing brushes, combs and hats.  The eggs (nits) of lice hatch in 7-10 days. Head lice can be passed to others as long as there are any live lice. Head lice may be brown or grayish, with flat wingless bodies. They are small insects about 2-4 mm in length and about half as wide. They move quickly and shy away from the light, making them difficult to see. Lice have six legs and live almost entirely on the head. They bite the scalp to obtain blood which is their only means for survival. It is the biting which causes an infested person to feel itchy. Head lice can only survive for up to 56 hours if off the head. The eggs (nits) are tiny and may be yellowish-white, brown or gray and shiny. They are glued to the hair near the scalp. Unlike lint or dandruff, they will not wash off or blow away. Eggs may be found throughout the hair but are most often located at the nape of the neck, behind the ears and at the crown. A magnifying glass and natural light may help when looking for them.



All infested family members should be treated at the same time. There are special creme rinses and shampoos which contain chemicals which kill the lice. Regardless of the product used, the eggs (nits) must be removed manually. Using a lice shampoo is not enough to get rid of the lice. If you are pregnant, nursing, have allergies or are using medications, consult your pharmacist or call the Mother-Risk Program at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto at 1-877-439-2744. If you are treating others, wear plastic or rubber gloves. Product Use Read the package directions of the product you have chosen and follow them carefully. If you have questions about the product, ask your pharmacist or consult with your doctor.  If live lice are found within 24 to 48 hours of treatment, the CPS recommends immediate re-treatment with a different pediculicide shampoo, and then repeat treatment with this second shampoo 7-10 days later. In this unusual circumstance, discussion with a pharmacist, nurse practitioner or physician is prudent.

Removal of Eggs (Nits)

Since lice combs do not remove all eggs, using your fingernails to pull out the eggs is the best way to be sure that your child is completely clear.

1. You will need good lighting, i.e. sunlight, a strong lamp, etc. Use a magnifying glass if eyesight is a problem.

2. Use a comb or hairbrush to remove tangles.

3. Divide hair into small sections and fasten off the hair that is not being worked on. Using a fine toothed comb or lice comb, go through each section from the scalp to the end of the hair. Dip the comb in a cup of vinegar or use a paper towel to remove any lice, eggs (nits) or debris from the comb between passes. (If debris builds up, use an old toothbrush to clean the comb.)

4. Work through that same section of hair and look for attached eggs. They are always ovalshaped, usually shiny gray, white or brown. Eggs are laid close to the scalp but can also be found anywhere along the hair shaft. Use your fingernails or scissors to cut the individual hair strands with attached eggs.

5. Go on to the next section until all sections have been completed. All eggs should be removed.

6. When all the eggs have been removed, the comb should be cleaned and soaked in hot water for 10 minutes. Wash hands and clean fingernails.

7. After the egg removal has been completed, search your child's hair for live lice. They move quickly and may be caught by a tweezer, your fingernails, or by using double-sided tape.

8. Check the infested person every day for at least two weeks and regularly afterwards. Finding an egg or two the next day does not necessarily mean re-infestation. Being consistent and diligent about manual removal will help.

9. If additional eggs (3-5) per day are found, live lice may still be on the head. Another thorough manual search is recommended at that time.

10. A few freshly laid eggs (nits) may not be killed by treatment shampoos or creme rinses. That is why a second treatment is now recommended 7-10 days after the first treatment.

Other Measures to be Carried Out at the Time of Treatment

1. Families may wish to wash personal articles in hot water for at least 10 minutes. Drying items at high temperatures, or storing them in plastic for 10-14 days, will also kill lice.

2. It is not necessary to use chemical sprays in your home as part of your treatment.

3. Check each member of the family daily. Once the condition is cleared, check each family member two times a week for a month, or more if there is an outbreak.

4. For more information visit the SMDHU at or call Health Connection at 1-877-721-7520.

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