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Head lice - quick question for teachers

(28 Posts)
earlycomputers Wed 10-Jun-15 10:04:56

Would like to know how primary school teachers know or suspect that a child has nits/lice? I have 3 kids and can only tell if they have the eggs by closely inspecting i a strong light and then trying to pull away the suspect egg (in case it's something else - eggs stick to the hair whereas dandruff comes away). I have never seen adult lice moving or otherwise in the hair. I have seen lice in the nit comb however during a lice treatment. So how do teachers spot them? thanks.

PatriciaHolm Wed 10-Jun-15 10:09:38

Our school send letters out if a parent tells them their child has nits.

I've seen adult lice moving on heads before, and the endless scratching is a bit of a giveaway too!

OliviaBurtonWatches Wed 10-Jun-15 10:11:29

Itching and scratching!

I have been volunteering a school with a really bad nit problem. One wee girl's hair was actually moving sad They were even in her eyebrows.

Finola1step Wed 10-Jun-15 10:14:08

1. constant scratching
2. Adult lice crawling in hair
3. Some parents tell us so that we can let everyone know that a case has been reported in the year group

In my 20 years in the job, I have never closely inspected a child's hair apart from my own children.

allinall Wed 10-Jun-15 10:26:13

I have sat next to children and seen lice moving in their hair, often crawling along a parting! We are not allowed to tell the child's parents though. But we'll send a general letter to everyone.

Mostly I only know if a parent tells me that her child has lice - then the school will send out a general letter.

SavoyCabbage Wed 10-Jun-15 10:30:00


Visible lice.

InstitutionCode Wed 10-Jun-15 10:38:20

You're right in most "normal" cases you need to get up close and look properly to see them, but teachers aren't spotting those.

The ones teachers see are where children are infested with adult lice and yes, the hair is literally moving. sad

Why aren't you allowed to tell the parents allinall?. We see that as a priority and if it's not treated, is a possible reason to make a child protection report.

LooksLikeImStuckHere Wed 10-Jun-15 10:47:25

Often the school sends out a letter because a parents has informed us their child has them. It's hard to say conclusively where they came from so the blanket letter is sent to all.

However, I have seen appalling cases and have literally pulled adult lice from the hair of children in my class. In those instances, I contact the school nurse and arrange for her to make a general call to the parents to go over ways to treat the hair.

To have adult lice means it has gone untreated for months.

LooksLikeImStuckHere Wed 10-Jun-15 10:49:44

And when I say 'general call' I mean that's what they are told. It is targeted to the particular family.

If it remains untreated then I class it as neglect and would report to the designated child protection staff member.

KingscoteStaff Wed 10-Jun-15 11:47:38

Well, watching them fall onto an open Maths book and be squished by the child is a bit of a give away...

But the scratching is the main sign. You can spot them in Assembly - often 2 or 3 members of the same family.

zingally Wed 10-Jun-15 19:03:51

I've seen adult lice moving around in kids hair (they are bigger than you might expect!). And the child scratches all the time!

mrz Wed 10-Jun-15 22:05:44

Suspect when child can't keep hands out of hair
Know when you see the lice racing up and down the child's fringe fall onto the child's book when reading to you (both actual experiences)

lostscot Wed 10-Jun-15 22:11:13

Looking down to mark maths and watching them crawl over child's head! Itching myself now...

Lottiedoubtie Wed 10-Jun-15 22:14:25


^what they all said, but I'm curious as to why you want to know OP?


Feenie Wed 10-Jun-15 22:16:41

We are not allowed to tell the child's parents though.

Who says? Our LEA child protection training declares this a myth - they say they now have to bring this up specifically in training since a 15 year old ended up with septicemia and subsequent organ failure as a direct result of several years of untreated head lice. All her teachers thought they were not allowed to approach parents if a child has head lice, but they are keen to send out the message loud and clear that this is most definitely not the case. The girl made a full recovery apparently, and this was not the only clue to her severe neglect.

calzone Wed 10-Jun-15 22:24:15

We tell parents. It is a type of neglect. We are very tactful but some parents cannot be arsed to check their child's hair.

A little 5 y old in my class was scratching her head til it bled. She was covered in the damn things. Rang her Dad and he came to collect her. hmmhmm

Mitzi50 Wed 10-Jun-15 22:29:58

feenie that's interesting. The message has not got through to all schools as we are only allowed to send a blanket letter rather than speak to individual parents.

Feenie Wed 10-Jun-15 22:36:32

I imagine our child protection services are now at pains to ensure everyone knows - interestingly, many of our TAs and lunchtime staff thought they weren't 'allowed'. Agree this should filter through to national training.

mrz Wed 10-Jun-15 22:53:09

Agree with those who say there is nothing to stop schools telling the child's parents. It is neglect to leave the child untreated.

Opaque Wed 10-Jun-15 23:17:25

I have seen adult lice as big as flies (no exaggeration) crawling all over a school child's head. The little girl was oblivious to them and didn't even scratch - I suspect that's how she had always lived. There was massive, generational neglect, among other things; services were involved...

Littlefish Wed 10-Jun-15 23:36:23

I once hugged a child, and a live louse transferred onto my jumper!

WhenMarnieWasThere Wed 10-Jun-15 23:38:53

I've seen eggs on a child's hair.
And lice crawling along a parting or down a hair in their fringe.
And, on one memorable occasion, a child pulling them out of her hair and flicking them across the table.

Heels99 Wed 10-Jun-15 23:40:46

It's not true that an adult louse means infection for months, an adult may have just transferred to that head that same day! How do you think people catch them? Adult lice transfer from head to head.
I help in school and have seen lice in kids hair which I of course report to teaching staff straight away and a note goes out.

mrz Thu 11-Jun-15 06:27:21

Heels there are normally whole populations not just a single louse
I had one parent try to tell me that the things having races up and down her daughters parting were chicken pox scabs (her daughter had had chicken pox 3 years previously ��)

Cedar03 Thu 11-Jun-15 11:31:10

I'm not a teacher but the itching usually gives it away. I helped on a school trip and one child was scratching away the whole time and complaining that her head was itchy.

And although a general letter will go out the school has told specific parents where they think they have them.

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