About: An adult head louse is about the size of a sesame seed, has six legs, and is usually tan or grayish-white in color. A mature female louse can lay up to 10 eggs per day. These tiny eggs (nits) are attached firmly to the base of the hair shaft within about 4 mm of the scalp. The eggs typically hatch within 7-12 days. Head lice do not jump or fly, but rather move through the hair by crawling. Movement of the lice through the hair causes the itching associated with an infestation. In almost all cases, infestation occurs through direct contact. Indirect infestation is much less likely, but children should be taught not to share personal items such as brushes, combs, and hats, Lice do not carry disease and are not a sign of poor hygiene. Head lice are a nuisance.
Treatment: Most cases of head lice are acquired outside of school. The best way to avoid a chronic problem is to perform regular checks of all family members. Infestations should be treated promptly and completely. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the California Department of Public Health recommend treatment with over-the-counter products containing permethrin or pyrthrins, such as Nix or Rid medicated shampoos. After using the product according to package directions, follow-up with nit removal and wet combing. Re-check and remove nits frequently until hair is clear. Eggs will not hatch once off the head, and an adult louse can only survive for about 24 hours away from the scalp. For these reasons, excessive housecleaning following an infestation is not necessary. Clothing and bedding recently used should be washed and dried. Thoroughly vacuum carpets. Stuffed animals and pillows can be put in the clothes dryer on high. Home "lice sprays" have not been proven effective. If your child's infestation continues despite appropriate treatment, please consult your pediatrician as prescription medication may be available. For California Department of Public Health treatment recommendations click here:
Lice & Attendance: It is the policy of the Mill Valley School District that students with live lice shall be excluded from school. Students with nits located within one centimeter of the scalp may be excluded. Excluded students may return to school when (1) they bring a note from the parent/guardian verifying treatment, and (2) reexamination by the district nurse or designee shows no live lice or nits within one centimeter of the scalp.
Notification: Please notify your school if lice are found. All reports are confidential.
Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics Clinical Report on Head Lice (May 2015) and Mill Valley School Board Policy 5141.33