Head lice is a major nuisance that affects millions of school aged children worldwide, and are mainly transmitted in schools, where children study, eat and play together all day long. How to prevent head lice in schools? Here are some tips for teachers to prevent head lice and help control infestations.
Why head lice prevention in schools is important
Schools have a major role to play in preventing head lice. Many times schools just send out a letter to parents when infestations are already active and many children are already infested. Most parents panic and have no idea how to get rid of head lice. They are disgusted and often feel ashamed when they discover that the parasites made it to their home.
In such a case, panicked parents who would not expose their children to potentially dangerous products will not hesitate to treat their kids with head lice shampoos that contain pesticides, and sometimes they will apply these products well beyond the recommended frequency and dosages, which is exactly when chemical head lice products become dangerous for children’s health.
Moreover, when lice is here already, some parents and even school or medical personnel will often see head lice as annoying but not dangerous, as they are harmless insects and cannot transmit diseases (they do transmit typhus but it has been eradicated in western countries). Thus they will not make their best efforts to get rid of it and this will open the door to long lasting infestations, some kids being then permanently infested.
And the problem when you don’t treat head lice properly is that repeated itching causes repeated scratching of the scalp, and scratching can create wounds and crusts that break the skin and opens the way to germs and lice feces, which can lead to swollen glands as well as skin bacterial infections such as impetigo.
Over time, severely infected individuals that almost live with lice all the time may experience fever and feel tired, as lice will affect their immune system.
If schools can work on head lice prevention before all the kids get infested, it will be possible to avoid having to issue no-nit policies that banish kids from schools. And some basic principles can really help to prevent head lice.
This is why treating and preventing head lice is crucial.
Tips for teachers to prevent head lice
These tips should help school teachers understand how to prevent head lice in their classroom and in school in general.
- send an information sheet to parents when school begins after vacations, with explanations on how to identify head lice.
- teach parents to look for head lice on their kids’ scalps on a weekly basis, just like any other personal hygiene routine.
- teach kids, especially young ones, about head lice and tell them once a week to avoid sharing combs, hats, brushes, scarves, helmets, and so on.
- scrutinize the head of kids that seem to be scratching their heads often. In the experience of many school personnel, sometimes only a small group of families is responsible for the frequent re-infestation of an entire class, as some parents do not see head lice as a serious problem at all. In this case the teacher can really play a major role by detecting the infestation and really putting pressure on the parents to treat their child.
- make sure there are separate lockers for each child. Headgear, scarves, and other outer clothing that comes into contact with the hair should be stored separately, one cubbyhole for each child. It is crucial that the teacher explains the importance of this behavior clearly. If separate lockers are not possible, cloth bags that close at the top with a drawstring are a good alternative.
These simple measures, if applied efficiently, can go a long way to prevent children getting head lice and avoid repeated, uncontrolled and then sometimes dangerous chemical lice treatments.
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