If Your Child Has Lice, Is It Your Duty to Inform Other Parents?

Updated on November 30, 2011
L.S. asks from Plano, TX
14 answers

I have preschoolers, and we haven't run across this yet. But I have a friend who has a 2nd grader this fall, and they just found out she has lice. The mom is agononizing over whether it is her duty to inform the parents of the kids her child has been around. Or will that ostracize the child? My friend is asking me what she should do, I don't have an answer. What would you do? Any advice would be appreciated.

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So What Happened?

Thanks ALL of you for your replies, and for taking the time to share your opinions. I'm going to forward this all to my friend, and I know she'll really appreciate all of your responses. Thanks again! -L.

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answers from Abilene on

I would be appreciative if someone called me if my son had been exposed. It might help keep the spread from being an "epidemic" in her group as well!

I know that's not what she wants to hear, nor would I, but it's what she probably should do.

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answers from Dallas on

Hmmmm, this is a tricky one.
I would say, unless the kids have come in very close contact with eachother or have been sharing a brush, then no I wouldn't tell them. Lice is contagious but it's most commonly passed between siblings, not friends.
Also it depends on the severity of the lice....are they covering the childs head to where she has to get her hair cut to help treat them or has your friend just found a few of them in her childs hair and when how long ago was her child around the other kids??

If it's a severe case, then she should probably tell but if she caught them early enough, she should be able to treat at home w/out worrying about them spreading to others.
We once had a niece that my sisters and I babysat who had a very bad case of lice and none of us caught it.

Another way I see it is lice is not a life threatening disease that other kids may get ill or die from, and it's treatable which is another reason she shouldn't feel obligated to tell.
I knew lots of kids in school who came down with lice and their parents never told anyone, they just treated it at home.
Yes they're gross BUT they do go away, usually no more than a week....and make sure she throws out all of the hair brushes she was using and gets them replaced!

Like you said, this can be very embarrasing to kids and I wouldn't want to humiliate my child.....especially if no one else ever even catches it.

So with all that said, my opinion is that she should just keep her child away from the other kids until all of the lice are gone and everyone should be just fine.

Take care!

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answers from Dallas on

Please tell the other parents!!

Here is my nightmare story for you...my son became good friends with a new kid in class so my son wanted to spend the night over..his first sleepover. I was fine with that and he had a great time. However, come Monday morning he is scratching his head off. I checked and he was LOADED with lice.LIVE AND NITS. I called the mom of the friend (who is his grandmother since mom does not want custody. I called just to inform her that my son had lice..well, she started apologizing and explaining how the natural mother refuses to admit there is an issue and does not treat anyone in the house so when her grandson returns from his weekend visits, he is loaded up again.

Not once did she mention the remote possibility of her grandson having this issue to me so I ended up getting them as well and my hair was to the middle of my back. We ended up shaving my son's head almost bald since the nits were so bad and I spent two days "debugging' the house. I also took it upon myself to call the school nurse and inform her of this particular child constantly having them. Turns out, as long as there are no LIVE LICE on the head, the child can come to school but tell me this, where do live lice come from? Right , nits...go figure.

At any rate, I did tell everyone my son came into contact with as well just in case so they could catch it a lot earlier than I did and avoid the whole mess.

Sorry to ramble but I am still fumed that the "mom" did not tell me about the issue until after the fact. True, if I had known, my son never would have spent the night. To this day, I have not let him go over there or the other child in my house. I hate to be that way but I honestly do not want those things back in my life.



answers from Tyler on

I would want to know. If you don't tell them and their child has it, you risk re-infestation when the kids get back together. (Just a thought.)

Pray about it.

P. <><



answers from Dallas on

I would definitely let the parents of kids who have been around her closely know. I would want someone to do the same for me. That way the parents could look for them and be sure their kids don't have it.



answers from Dallas on

Personally, being a teacher, I feel like it should be the school's responsibility to inform the parents by sending home a letter saying there has been a student with lice, please check your child. This way, no fingers are pointed. And no matter how good of a person your child is, if they know someone has lice, they are probably going to make fun of them. Maybe even the parent could have the teacher distribute a letter if the school administration wont.



answers from Dallas on

I would say that yes, you should inform the other parents. If your little has been in any kind of close contact with them, I would really recommend it. I know that I would want to know!



answers from Dallas on

There was a lice outbreak when I was in Europe for a semester in college with 112 other students from my university. Unfortunately, I was one of the victims (European lice is MUCH larger and harder to treat!!). The students joked about how this was a "dirty" problem (i.e. only people who are dirty get lice). The school's health advisor explained that lice actually prefer clean heads because there's no oil or dirt to impede their access to the scalp. So... anyone who shuns a child because they are "dirty" enough to get lice should be corrected. They are actually "clean" enough to get lice.

Yes, it is absolutely the duty of the child's parents to tell other parents whose kids have been exposed (outside of school). If they are still in school (i.e. not out for summer), then the school should notify parents of children exposed at school. A lice infestation could shut down the school!



answers from Amarillo on

If the child is in daycare or a church setting the parent is suppose to tell the daycare or church and the daycare/church must clean everything and send a letter with each child that has been within the daycare to cheeck their childs hair for possible lice.
if its a playdate kind of thing Id mention it! I would want to know just so we could watch out for it!
Hope things work out for your friend!



answers from Amarillo on

It is a kindness to inform the other parents that your child has been in contact with lice. One possible way of going about this is to notify the childrens school first. If the children are not in school then let the parents know that there has been an out-break and your child has been affected. Since he/she are friends with their children "you" thought it only fair to let them know.
As a hairstylist it is actually illegal to let something like this pass but to my knowledge it is only morally correct for the general public. I strongly suggest doing the right thing. If the child loses friends over something like this that no one has control over then maybe those are not the friends you would have your little one be influenced by. Hope this helps.


answers from Dallas on

I personally would want to know so that I could take a proactive approach to avoid them.

I realize it is something that happens and I would not have hard feelings toward someone.

In the past, if there has been a major outbreak at the school, we have received word from the nurse in the regular announcements.

So far, luck has held out for us.




answers from Dallas on

Let me share my lice nightmare with you - my dd best friend got head lice at her cousin's house last summer - parent's KNEW the cousins had lice - the kids all slept together etc - but didn't think their kiddo had lice - never told me (I babysit for these people)... long story short MAJOR lice infestation among all of our friends!!! Had they checked their child for lice the outbreak could have been contained. We didn't find out until another friend took her dd for a haircut before school!! So we traced it back to the original child - who had it BAD by that time. We worked so hard to eradicate the lice - but the girl it started with (parents had it too) - didn't follow the instructions correctly and she still had nits 6 months later....

Please tell anyone who had DIRECT contact or shared clothes, towels or hair stuff with the infected child!!! It is a public health issue.



answers from Boca Raton on

I would say, inform the school that she has lice. They will do a check on the everyone in her class, send home information, and check her out to make sure it is gone before she is back in school. The school nurse will be very discreet as this is a common problem that happens in schools.



answers from Dallas on

It is that parent's obligation to let the parents know. I will say this ~ if those children's families shun that child because of this, they are really not people you want your child around anyway. People of all social lines, ages, races, etc get lice ~ does not mean you are dirty. It can cause MAJOR problems in homes. I think it is disrespectful to not say anything ~ and really VERY selfish for that matter. I know it is embarassing, but if the shoe was on the other foot....wouldn't she want to know???

Next question: Freaking Out over LICE!!!