Isolated instances of head lice in daycares and classrooms don’t need to be reported to parents, and children being treated for head lice should not be prevented from attending school, according to new guidelines provided to school boards from Quebec’s Ministry of Health.
According to an 80-page government report obtained by La Presse, new recommendations state that if fewer than 10 per cent of children in the group are infested with lice, educators do not need to notify parents. It notes that sending warning letters stigmatizes kids with lice, and often leads to parents applying treatments to kids who are not infested.
The Canadian Pediatric Society (CPS) recommends prescribed oral medications, and topical insecticides and non-insecticidal treatments available at pharmacies for the treatment of lice. Wet-combing and home remedies like mayonnaise or olive oil treatments are much less likely to be effective. Data is unclear whether aromatherapy or essential oils such as tea tree oil are effective.
After treating kids, bedding, combs and hats should be soaked in hot water (above 65 degrees Celsius) in undiluted head lice medication for 5-10 minutes, put in the dryer at the warmest setting for 20 minutes, or sealed in a plastic bag for 10 days to kill lice.
While many parents think they need to disinfect their home when a child gets lice, the CPS notes that there is no data to support the idea that this will prevent reinfestation. Lice are not believed to live long away from the scalp, and lice information provided by the Quebec Ministry of Health states that the likelihood of infestation through contact with personal belongings or furniture is minimal.
Parents of children in school or daycare are encouraged to check children’s hair for lice weekly, or whenever a child’s head is itchy.