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Head lice--just venting.

Posted

Specializes in School Nursing, Telemetry. Has 2 years experience.

Just have to vent, since I am seething about a dramatic school board meeting (that I did not attend) that entailed a teacher getting all hysterical about the head lice policy that was adopted last May that *gasp* allows kids to return to class after being diagnosed. She went on about a particular student that supposedly was "flipping her hair around" and infecting everyone, apparently. And continued on to say that the teachers have spent $100+ treating their own families. Never mind that we are in a VERY low income area, and the families with head lice problems ALSO have to spend money to treat it. Never mind that EVERY SCHOOL has lice and always will.

Then, one of the board members acted shocked that we just allow kids with lice to "run loose" in the classroom, even though I JUST MET WITH THEM ABOUT THIS POLICY AND REVIEWED IT. AND BROUGHT EVIDENCE. So, now it has to be revisited to appease all the naysayers.

The other nurses and I will be meeting with the board and reviewing the evidence yet again. I am feeling quite discouraged about all of this and want to pull my hair out. There are so many bigger problems in our community and it is disheartening to have to fight and fight about this policy. Over it!

I feel your pain. I spend SO much time & energy on lice, and it is really frustrating when there are real issues to deal with. I started last year in a school where classroom-wide checks and panic ensued when one child had lice. After a lot of education (and re-education) I finally have *most* teachers on board that no, every child does not need to be checked every time a child has lice. That being said, I am in PA where we exclude for lice. I really wish they would change that law, but I also know it would open a whole other can of worms! Hang in there!

OldDude

Specializes in Pediatrics.

Hey....cynmrn....calm down. You're gonna blow an artery!! Paying attention to complains that conflict with school policy only fans the flames of hysteria. Remind them the school doesn't allow kids with lice to "run loose;" it's those kid's parents that are responsible for that. As I've said before...a school can't "DO" anything about head lice other than provide education. Only the parents can "DO" something about it - if they want to that is. Texas doesn't require exclusion from school for lice...some districts still hang on to that policy which is a losing battle - I'm glad our's does not. Hang tough and like GrapeRN said, spend your energy on things that matter.

Do a "lice" search here on AN and you'll come up with great SCIENTIFIC FACTS to take to the board.

I like this site a lot and this sounds like Old Dude speaking:

[h=2]From whom did my child acquire head lice?[/h]Head lice are acquired from other infested people. Upon learning of their child's infestation, parents frequently seek to ascribe blame. This 'knee-jerk' reaction is understandable but unproductive. The offending lice came from some other person, but it is not currently possible to determine the identity of the donor. Parents are encouraged to focus their energies on education and treatment rather than on unsuccessful, time-cosuming witch-hunts. Rather than accusing school administrators or other parents for not preventing the spread of head lice, parents are likely to benefit more by ensuring all children and adults in the home are inspected and treated as appropriate.

https://identify.us.com/idmybug/head-lice/head-lice-FAQS/index.html

You cannot spread lice by flipping your hair around.

Another section of same link:

https://identify.us.com/idmybug/head-lice/head-lice-FAQS/why-were-children-sent-home.html

To summarize the many arguments against the ‘no nit' policies:

  1. there is no objective medical or scientific evidence to support the adoption, enforcement or continuation of a no-nits policy (or, for that matter, a 'no-live-lice' policy),
  2. the manner in which 'screenings' are conducted within schools may violate the confidentiality of the students,
  3. such screenings are often conducted by personnel who neither have certification as clinical laboratoratorians nor are medically qualified to render a medical diagnosis,
  4. the exclusion policies have never been demonstrated to reduce incidence or prevalence of head lice in the school population,
  5. the activity of screening within the school is burdensome to staff and students alike,
  6. the conclusions of the screeners are frequently flawed,
  7. the condition of pediculiasis rarely manifests with more than mild and transient pruritus, and is not associated with other infectious processes,
  8. head lice are acquired mainly by direct head-to-head contact with an infested person (rarely via inanimate objects),
  9. head louse eggs ('nits') are, for all practical considerations, non-transmissible,
  10. exclusion policies restrict educational opportunities for the affected students, and may (because of increased absentee rates) reduce state funding to schools,
  11. 'no-nit' as well as ‘no louse' policies are discouraged by the American Academy of Pediatrics http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/reprint/peds.2010-1308v1.pdf The National Association of School Nurses NASN | NASN Position Statements), and by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC - Lice) also discourage the ‘no nit' policies, and;
  12. certain prominent school systems have eliminated or modified their policies (e.g. New York City), and the feared 'epidemics' of lice have not materialized. See: Pediculosis (Head Lice) - Office of School Health - New York City Department of Education

cynmrn

Specializes in School Nursing, Telemetry. Has 2 years experience.

Thank you for the responses and letting me vent. Sometimes, I do feel like I am going to blow an artery! It is just frustrating sometimes to feel like it is groundhog's day, hearing the same thing over and over about this issue. I just care about keeping these kids in school and dislike having the select few singled out as if they are this infestation waiting to happen!

Thank you for the responses and letting me vent. Sometimes, I do feel like I am going to blow an artery! It is just frustrating sometimes to feel like it is groundhog's day, hearing the same thing over and over about this issue. I just care about keeping these kids in school and dislike having the select few singled out as if they are this infestation waiting to happen!

I liked this part of the above link to help explain why I refuse to do lice checks or why I refuse to take a call from some parent in the community who is tattling about some other child having lice.

  1. the manner in which 'screenings' are conducted within schools may violate the confidentiality of the students,

OldDude

Specializes in Pediatrics.

Spidey's mom is right on...several years ago, when we still did classroom head checks, one of the campus principals was contacted by an attorney, representing a child from that campus, alleging the child's privacy was violated by the campus nurse for touching and looking at the child's hair during a classroom head check. It never went to trial but certainly did get a lot of administrative attention.

So ready for the day to be over. Just got chewed out by a parent whose child the school gave lice to...according to her the child has NO OTHER human contact besides the school. She can't believe we don't check the classroom, send letters home, call out the national guard. Then she called the principal. The she called the superintendent. Then she called me back. Good Lord. I finally told her I needed to be doing other things since this was going nowhere. She was so mean and disrespectful! Sorry to dredge this up again but need a little sympathy.

OldDude

Specializes in Pediatrics.

Geez...that hysteria is such a waste of energy...I do sympathize with you chasin. You have my permission to imbibe in the spirit of your choice tonight - even on a school night!!

Jolie, BSN

Specializes in Maternal - Child Health. Has 34 years experience.

I had a school in a particularly affluent area. The principal there was young and easily intimidated by the pushy parents who formerly held very important positions, prior to becoming stay-at-home mothers with little to do other than interfere at their kids' school.

There were a few cases of head lice, most of them in one grade. The principal wanted me to do head checks of those classes, which I refused to do, citing health department guidelines. She also wanted to send home a school-wide note, accompanied by a robo-call. That worried me, and I tried mightily to talk her out of that. My final effort involved calling the health department and asking for their advice. We have an excellent local health department, and I had a very good relationship with our contact person. I was advised that she could do whatever she wanted, but they would not back her publicly or privately if she went rogue. I really thought that would persuade her, but I was wrong.

Out went the note and the robo-call, and the health department contact and I literally popped popcorn and sat down to watch the show. It was highly entertaining. The principal followed our recommendations after that :)

SnugglePuggle

Has 4 years experience.

As a school nurse who holds the scientific facts concerning lice in high regard, I completely agreement that "no nit" policies and classroom checks should be a thing of the past. I have spent countless hours trying to calm and educate parents about the transmission of lice. That being said it was not until my own Kindergartener was sent home with lice that I came to realize that my education was lacking a major component - How to effectively stop and eradicate an infestation.

Treating a lice infestation is not an easy task. From my own personal experience, over-the-counter lice shampoos and the nits combs found in most drug stores are only partially effective. Studies suggest that lice are evolving genetic resistance to conventional lice treatment shampoos and crème rinses such as Rid and Nix. Plus these treatments contain harsh chemicals – primarily pyrethrum and permethrin – that can be very irritating to a child's skin. My own child screamed bloody murder when I used Nix on her head, and several hours later, I was still picking out lice which were very much alive. After many, many hours of using the cheap nit comb that came with the Nix and one of those louse zappers”, I threw in the towel and called in a professional.

From this professional nit picker” I learned that the only way to eradicate a lice infestation is to physically remove each and every bug and nit. He used no harsh chemicals, only a conditioning spray that contained lavender and a high quality nit comb. What he pulled out of my child's hair (and this is after I had worked on her for 2 days) made my jaw drop. I realized that while I, as a school nurse, understood the mode of transmission of the louse, I lacked the information on how to safely and effectively eradicate the infestation.

Five days later my child was thoroughly rechecked and declared louse and nit free. The work of the professional was guaranteed for 30 days. I was given the tools to regularly screen my child. Four days later I found 3 full-sized adults on my child's head. Knowing the life cycle of the louse, they most likely were recent interlopers and likely came from school. With the younger ones there are multiple opportunities for direct contact – play, circle time, etc.

Here is where my frustration lies as a parent. I can do everything possible to keep my child louse and nit-free, but I cannot control how other parents deal with infestations in their own children. That being said I understand how families can struggle in dealing with lice infestation. I am a licensed school nurse and even I did not know how to most effectively treat my own child! Fortunately, I come out of this experience with more knowledge and practical skill so that I am better equipped to help the families at my own school. Unfortunately, I cannot control how well the school nurse educates the families at my child's school.

I encourage all school nurses to explore the more non-traditional”, holistic treatments of lice infestation. There are some awesome You-tube videos that demonstrate the most effective way to manually remove bugs and nits without the use of harsh chemicals. I believe that the traditional lice treatments being sold today are viewed as a "quick fix" and promote a false sense of security in that parents think they have taken care of the problem.

NutmeggeRN, BSN

Specializes in kids. Has 25 years experience.

What kills me about the education system as a whole....when someone comes up with a "new and improved" way to test, score, assess...they are all over it like the plague.

When we have TONS of evidence based info, they turn a deaf ear.....

Ebola ain't got nothing on lice!! Ebola was mini hysteria, lice cause mass hysteria. Just today, a parent checked her 2 (about to go to truancy court) kids out early due to the lice outbreak at my school. Really, first I had heard about it!!

I am hoping her plans include home schooling them in a bubble house so that they are never to be exposed.

Licensed School RN is so correct. The correct comb and due diligence is the key to treatment. I get so tired of parents who shampoo (never do the 2nd treatment, probably barely comb) and complain that their kid "keeps getting it at school." Uggh, they never got rid of it to begin with!!!

The town next to mine is fairly well off and has a very active Moms facebook page. Someone posted about her daughter having lice and it evolved into a thread of 103 comments about lice, the school policy on lice, how to prevent lice, etc. You could post about a house burning down and it wouldn't get as much attention. :(

SnugglePuggle

Has 4 years experience.

The town next to mine is fairly well off and has a very active Moms facebook page. Someone posted about her daughter having lice and it evolved into a thread of 103 comments about lice, the school policy on lice, how to prevent lice, etc. You could post about a house burning down and it wouldn't get as much attention. :(

Assuming the correct information is getting out there, it is good that these Moms are at least openly talking about the issue and it is not considered some "dirty little secret".

We actually have this going on right now, big Facebook thread with 90+ replies, the latest of which states (absolutely false, of course) that the nurse (me) "loudly told her (daughter's) teacher that she had lice". This absolutely did NOT happen. It is entirely fiction, a flat out lie. Didn't happen. Furious.