The Nitbusters program is a NSW Health initiative to reduce the prevalence of head lice in the community. This project was developed in consultation with the NSW Federation of Parents and Citizens Associations and the NSW Department of Education and Communities. It educates school children and parents about head lice and how to screen for and treat them as a community.
The program is aimed not at eradicating head lice but at identifying and managing infestations. Nitbusters tries to educate communities through schools about the most effective ways to reduce populations of head lice by encouraging school ‘Nitbuster days’. These days are coordinated by parent volunteers, who use a fine-toothed nit comb and white hair conditioner to both screen for and treat head lice.
Unfortunately the complete elimination of head lice is not realistic; however, Nitbusters recommends a safe, effective and simple method of removing head lice that can be used regularly to make the management of infestations easier. This involves keeping a good quality nit comb in the shower and training children to use it every time they wash their hair, even if their heads are not itchy.
This and other methods of head lice management can be demonstrated through Nitbusters training days in primary schools across New South Wales. Neighbouring schools can also attend these days, which are designed to educate schools and parents on how to coordinate their own Nitbuster program.
How to organise a Nitbuster day
Organising a Nitbusters Day in your school will require some paperwork, including consent forms from parents, information for parents and volunteers regarding how the day will be coordinated and follow-up information on treatment options.
This website provides standard forms that your school can download and reproduce and/or edit as required.
- The information below on How to Organise a Nitbusting Day should be handed to parent volunteers. It contains information on the items they need to run the day. The Parent information sheet should be sent to parents and guardians in the school. This sheet provides information on what the program is, how it works, and a request that their child participate.
- The Parent consent form should be sent out some days later. Children should not participate in a Nitbusting Day unless they have their parent's consent.
- The Children’s Take home note should be photocopied and ready to be completed and handed to each child after they are screened.
Nitbusters forms are available in a range of community languages from the NSW Department of Education and Communities.
Information for parents and volunteers on organising a nitbusting day
- Arrange for class teachers to help with the paperwork on the day by checking consent forms against a class list and marking down which students have infestations.
- Get the school to provide the conditioner, gloves, and good head lice combs.
- Good head lice combs are only available from selected chemists. Try to avoid ones that tear the hair or have too wide a spacing between tines. Some very good combs are available over the Internet. You may be able to get a discount for a bulk purchase.
- Purchase cheap white hair conditioner. Several brands have bottles of over a litre at under $2. You will need about 10 bottles for 200 kids.
- Purchase some kitchen rolls of paper, again a cheap brand, to wipe the combs onto between each combing. You need a lot of this paper, several rolls per volunteer.
- Provide each volunteer with disposable rubber or latex gloves. While it is not necessary to use them, some volunteers prefer them and enough should be available for each child.
- See if you can get a local supermarket to sponsor your school's Nitbusting Day. Acknowledgement of this support can be provided in your school newsletter. It is worth investigating the possibilities.
- If the school has a microscope, it's worthwhile to set it up so the kids can inspect the critters!
- The idea of Nitbusters is to encourage as many parents as possible to understand how to treat kids hair simply. Try encouraging schools in your area to come on the day to learn how to nitbust. The idea is for parent groups to be able to go back to their schools with the information and confidence to run their own Nitbusting Days every term or so.
Resources for educators and parents