Don’t refuse help when treating lice, says parent
Do not hesitate to visit your community health clinic. I visited at least three times, and phoned as needed. Community health nurses are there to assist, and I obtained helpful strategies for nit-cleaning and treatment during each visit or phone call. It is also encouraging to know that there is a second (or third or fourth) set of eyes checking out your nitcleaning processes and verifying for you if you are on the right track to ridding lice and nits.
Take the time to understand what it means to really treat head lice. This has to be one of the most significant points, as I believe that misconceptions on this one issue are likely part of the source of the continued, lousy problem.
Not a one- day solution
Even as I write this article, I am still in the treatment phase with my children (Day 6). Treatment is NOT solely a one-day, one-time application of a product but, rather, a process that involves product application, nit-cleaning for a number of days and possibly a second treatment.
I acknowledge that I misunderstood this, as I always heard “treat the child and then send the child to school the next day.” The “next day” could be anywhere from Day 8 onwards following your first sighting of a louse. Furthermore, it can involve a timeframe that runs anywhere from one to three weeks (or even longer) depending on how successful you are in ridding the head of lice, nymphs and nits in the first seven days and/or any other additional follow-up treatment required.
Let me explain my new understanding of what the treatment process involves:
On Day 1, a Saturday, I discovered live lice and nits in two of my children’s hair. I had already read and understood that this meant that I treat them once, and, based on a child’s right to education, human rights, etc., I would then be within my right to send them to school the next school day.
However, I have discovered that this is not accurate for all cases. Treatment of lice and nits is at least a seven-day process, and it is my firm belief that children should not be sent back to school/activities until that treatment process is complete.
According to Eastern Health, treatment of head lice includes a) a two-step application of a product on Day 1 and Day 7, b) daily head checks during that period, and c) ongoing manual removal of all nits or eggs.
If live lice are discovered during that period, the treatment period could be longer, and may even involve application of additional treatment lotions before the first seven days are complete. I believe that it is only after the full treatment process that children should return to school and/or activities.
Never- ending cycle
The fact that children are sent back to school on Day 2 of their treatment cycle appears to be part of the reason why the seemingly neverending cycle of infection of head lice continues. If, on Day 7 or afterwards, there are still nits and/ or live lice, then the treatment period continues.
A community health professional should be able to verify for you when/if your child is ready to return to school/activities based on reports of whether or not lice and/or nits are still present. However, while your child still has live lice, nymphs or nits in their hair, regardless of whether or not a school or school district has a “no nit” policy, the child should not be sent back to school, since they have not been fully treated.
If I had sent my children back to school on the first day following initial product application, which is what many think ‘ treatment’ refers to, I would have sent them back with nits still in their hair and/or live lice. Despite my efforts to remove every nit or louse, it took me five days to do so.
If I had elected to not exercise my right to keep my children home, I might have potentially exposed other people — your children — to contracting head lice.
You will hear many caregivers, teachers, coaches, and even the occasional pharmacist suggest that they cannot tell you to not send your child back to school/ activity after treatment. They are mandated to tell you this from sources that are higher up ( board levels, government, etc.), and this notion is based on human