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Schools and Daycare Centers Beware: Watch for Head Lice During the Holidays

When holiday gatherings (familial and otherwise) are fully underway, the chance of head lice surfacing in schools, day care centers and after school programs is also more likely.

With colder weather arriving, children are playing more indoors (head-to-head) – and also tending to pile hats and scarves together. In addition, scientists report outbreaks of “super lice” that are resistant to many over-the-counter and prescription chemicals used to kill them.

“Parents are using lice removal products according to manufacturer’s directions and not getting positive outcomes,” says Liz Solovay, president of national operations at the Connecticut-based Lice Treatment Center®. In particular, Solovay points to a research study presented at the 250th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society in August 2015. “In the United States and Canada there is strong evidence of more and more outbreaks of “super lice” that are genetically resistant to the pyrethrin- and permetrin-based chemicals most frequently used to treat head lice.”

So, as the usual removal treatments fail, it’s no surprise we’re seeing more infestations – particularly among younger children. All schools, including childcare facilities need to have a plan of action for what to do if head lice appear.

“The best weapons are routine screening and early detection,” says Solovay. “This can be done internally by someone at your facility or you can call on a professional lice screening service like ours to do it for you. The most important thing is to regularly check the kids’ heads and to have a protocol established for what to do even if only one crawler is discovered.”

Screening involves careful visual inspection. You begin by separating the child’s hair into small sections and examining each hair strand and the scalp. Look for both live lice and their eggs (nits). Never show alarm if a louse is spotted. It’s not the child’s fault, and you don’t want him/her to feel singled out or frightened.

What you do next depends on your own facility’s head-lice policy. All parents should be informed about the infestation – not just the infested child’s parents. This way, parents can begin monitoring their own children for lice symptoms (see list of symptoms). Treatment of infected children should begin as soon as possible.

Head Lice Symptoms include:

Tickling feeling on the scalp or in the hair

Itching (caused by the bites of the louse)

Irritability and difficulty sleeping (lice are more active in the dark)

Sores on the head (caused by scratching, which can sometimes become infected)

More information about lice treatment procedures, products, and services can be found at