Preventing Lice This School Year

Preventing Lice this School Year

Head lice outbreaks are synonymous with the beginning of a new school year, especially for young kids. Lice are maybe the most upsetting pests you’ll ever come into contact with. They live in your hair. They lay eggs in your hair. Did Stephen King design this animal?

Maybe worst of all, a lice infestation could ruin your kid’s first weeks back at school. Chances are, getting your kid happy about school is an uphill battle anyway. The last thing you need is some hair monster making them afraid to get on the bus! Here’s what you should know about lice and how to protect your kids from them.

What are Lice?

The singular noun for lice is "louse". This is a louse.

“Lice” is the plural noun for the “louse,” which is an order of clear or grey, 2.5-3 millimeter, flat and wingless parasitic insects. They sustain themselves entirely on the secretions of a host. Head lice (Pediculus humanus capitis) only feed on the blood of humans.

Head lice don’t transmit diseases the way other body lice can, and they lay their eggs on the scalp, not clothing. They can and do undergo their entire four-stage life cycle while infesting a human host, hatching from eggs, molting up to three times as nymphs, and growing to reproductive adulthood.

Why do they infest hair?

why lice infest hair

Head lice infest the scalp of their host for two reasons: temperature and security. The pests have to live in warm locations to maintain body temperature. Hair and heat coming off of a host’s head help them stay comfortable while they chow down.

Lice can’t defend themselves from predators, and they can’t fly, jump, or run away fast, either. The best chance they have is staying close to their hosts and hiding. That’s why head lice developed hook-like claws on their legs. These “hooks” latch around hair shafts, allowing the louse to hide under the hair and move around without their host shaking them off.

Why are they such a problem at schools?

Lice are a particularly common problem at schools

Head lice infestation has nothing to do with the cleanliness of a host. If a child has them, it is not because they are dirty or their home is. The real reason why this particular pest tends to be a problem at pre-schools is even simpler–and kinda silly.

The most common way for lice to move from host-to-host is by head-to-head contact. Little kids are more-or-less the only people likely to have head-to-head contact, other than football players. Kids hair might touch when they’re playing, napping, or just being adorable little weirdos. Lice can also move from host-to-host by hitching rides on clothes and other personal effects.   

How can I protect my kid?

Lice are common, but preventable

We’d suggest teaching your child that sharing is bad, but we’re pretty sure that would contradict their teacher. You can teach them not to touch other kids’ hair, wear their clothes, or put anything belonging to other kids up by their heads, however. Make sure your kid only wears their own helmet, and doesn’t share hats, scarves, towels, or headsets.

Once your kid gets home from school, consider combing their hair with a fine-toothed comb. If you’re particularly worried about lice, you could use a specialized shampoo to wash your kid’s hair. Make sure you regularly wash your kid’s clothing and bedding, too.

What should I do if my kid has lice?

There are several easy ways to treat a lice infestation

If one one of your kids has lice, everyone should check for them. Immediately isolate clothing, bedding, towels, and combs used by the infested person. Machine wash or professionally dry clean applicable materials using hot water to kill eggs and lice on infested material. Vacuum and thoroughly clean any furniture the infested person used in the past several days.

There are several varieties of louse medicine available. Consult your doctor for information on what you should use and follow their instructions. Use a lice “nit” comb after each treatment, and continue to check the infested person for lice everyday for 2-3 weeks after the lice have gone.


Head lice aren’t dangerous, but that’s cold comfort to anyone who gets them. If you hear about an infestation at your child’s school, don’t panic. Just make sure you follow the tips listed above, and if worst comes to worst, seek out treatment options.

And remember: you don’t have to shave your head. Or your kid’s head. Or some random classmate of your kid’s head. If you have any other questions about pest that live anywhere (not just on your body), give Griffin a call today! We’ve been fighting the pest menace here in Michigan for a long time, and we’ve learned a thing or two in the process. Hope your kid has a great, lice-free year!

Schools new headlice policy isn’t what you remember from your dear old golden school days

girl getting head lice inspectionWhy are head lice treated the way they are in schools?

The typical way to treat a child that is suffering from head lice was to immediately diagnose the problem and send the child back home to be treated by the parents and medical specialists. The problem is very easily treatable and there are a number of short procedures, gels and medications that can be used to rid individuals of the condition.

However, the general conception surrounding head lice can be extremely detrimental to the mental health of schoolchildren suffering from the condition. Head lice are considered to be ‘disgusting’ and schoolchildren and parents alike, automatically associate the condition with bad hygiene. However, head lice can be easily transferred from simple household items, and do not in any way display the level of hygiene an individual keeps.

The truth is that having head lice is an extremely common condition. Studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that approximately 6 to 12 million schoolchildren between the ages of 3 and 11 suffer from the condition every year. Despite the condition being unpleasant, it is widely understood that head lice do not spread any other disease, posing minimal health concerns.

The reason why head lice have been treated the way they were in schools is because of how easily transferable they are. While it is true that they do not pose a health hazard, schools are ideal places for head lice to travel from scalp to scalp. Schoolchildren often engage in physical activity, share items and generally live in proximity to each other. This makes it increasingly difficult for school authorities to contain a head lice condition when it is diagnosed.

The general policy for schoolchildren suffering from head lice was that they would be sent home until the condition had been treated. However, recently this policy has been changed in response to the fact that many schoolchildren with the condition suffer psychologically from this sort of quarantining.

Why has the policy changed?

The previous policy of ostracizing schoolchildren suffering from head lice has been changed because many schools have realized that children may be suffering from the condition long before it is actually brought to light. Schoolchildren may be suffering from the condition for periods of weeks and months before nurses actually diagnose the condition. This means that by the time authorities have discovered the condition, classmates of the child would have already been exposed themselves.

What are Lice?

Louse is a term used to categorize over 3000 species of tiny insects that typically infect the human scalp when exposed to certain conditions. Lice act on the human scalp by settling and eating away at human skin. Some species of lice also feed on blood. While lice are most commonly observed settling on animals, a special species of lice known as head lice is known to affect only humans. Head lice are dangerous in that they thrive by sucking up blood through the host’s scalp. Head lice multiply by laying tiny eggs at the bottom of a strand of hair known as nits. The onset of head lice is typically known as pediculosis capitis.

While there is generally a taboo around head lice created by schoolchildren and parents, it is important to understand that it is one of the most common diseases that affect children, second only to the common cold. There is a general misconception that having head lice is directly associated with poor hygiene, however, this is not the case. There are a number of ways through which pediculosis capitis can be contracted. Let us take a closer look at the causes of head lice.

What causes head lice?

Perhaps, the most important feature of head lice is the fact that they are wingless insects. This means that they cannot travel from the scalp of one person to another by flying or jumping. There has to be contact between the head of an individual suffering from head lice and another. Head to head contact is one of the most common ways through which head lice are transferred from one person to the next. However, this is not the only way for head lice to travel from person to person.

While these insects need to survive by sucking blood through a human’s scalp, they can live long enough without doing so on any household items. Sharing these items is also a common way to contract a head lice condition. Many schoolchildren have sleepovers during the weekends, where they tend to share the same bed. Head lice can be present on bedding like pillows and bed linen and can travel to different hosts when they come into contact with such items.

Brushes are another household item that is commonly shared between individuals. An individual suffering from head lice will inevitably transfer these insects from their scalps to their brushes over time. When hairbrushes are borrowed, this creates the perfect opportunity for head lice to find new hosts.

Another common way for head lice to infect an individual is through clothing. Schoolchildren often share clothing, increasing the risk of transferring head lice from one host to another. Head lice typically gather on the shoulders or collars of shirts and latch on to human hair when these items of clothing come into contact with the head. Other items that can gather head lice are towels, headphones, hats, hair bands and upholstery on furniture.

Are head lice dangerous?

Extensive research has been undertaken into the dangers of having head lice, and is typically understood that, while the condition is one that can spread extremely quickly, head lice themselves do not pose much of a health threat. The most common symptoms associated with head lice infestation is that of itching and scratching. This is a common symptom that comes about through the host’s allergic reaction to the saliva of head lice that is secreted when they begin sucking blood from the scalp.

Apart from the itching, there is a likelihood of redness and some swelling developing on the scalp. When head lice lay eggs, these eggs are white and are often mistaken for dandruff. However, dandruff does not attach itself to the base of hair strands. A common way to determine if an individual is suffering from nits is to run a brush through the affected area and see if the white particles are moved easily.