Chronic Lice Infestation
What to do when you have a family who is unwilling to treat or is incapable of treating a chronic lice infestation:
What We Know:
- Sending the student home to be treated is of no use. The student misses numerous days of school, only to return untreated or within days to be sent home with another infestation.
- The head lice problem for these families will never be solved. They will have head lice forever. It usually never gets any better, but usually never gets much worse.
- Ninety-nine percent of the families know what to do to take care of the problem. They have been told over and over what to do. Many choose to do nothing or find it so overwhelming, they do nothing. Even a mentally challenged family would be able to pick out the live bugs and send the child back to school within hours.
- You can not refer these families to DFS (Division of Family Services) for Medical Neglect for head lice. Head Lice is considered a “Nuisance Disease”.
- You can refer these families for educational neglect/truancy. Being sent home for “Head Lice Treatment” is not an excuse for absenteeism from school. A student sent home to be treated for head lice, can treat and have the student back in class within two hours.
- The Health Department (State and Local), Community Nursing Services, and District Nurses DO NOT have any services or programs for lice.
So What Is A School To Do?
- As much or as little as you decide that you have time, talent, and treasure.
- You can offer to buy medication and treat the student yourself, but only twice - as the medication is pure insecticide, can be toxic, and has been shown not to work (resistant).
- Or you could supervise the student, wetting the hair, brushing the hair for 15-20 minutes, and then blow-drying the hair for another 15 -20 minutes.
- The student could shower daily at school.
- The school could wash and dry her/his clothing and coat daily.
- Do none of above, simply admit the student back to class, give the student a private locker, get rid of all “reading lofts, communal reading bathtubs, beanbag chairs, etc.”, instruct students not to share combs, hats, coats, no hugging, no putting your heads together, etc. Gym classes will have to be adapted for having a student with chronic head lice. Get the student back into class. Ignore the lice. Do not check that student ever again unless the student is scratching uncontrollably or from across the room, you can see live lice crawling.