Saturday, January 28, 2017

New Head Lice Guidlines for Schools

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Louse
Updated 1/28/17

I, and many other entomologists, have argued for a long time that a diagnosis of head lice is no reason to keep kids out of school, or to otherwise single them out for special treatment. It now seems that the American Academy of Pediatrics agrees. The new AAP guidelines are aimed mostly at schools and are released at a time when many schools still suspend students that show any signs of head lice, including simple head-scratching and/or the presence of nits (lice eggs).

In a recent article the AAP now recommends that:
  • no-nit policies (1) should be suspended
  • head lice should not be treated as a serious medical issue but instead as a simple nuisance
  • head lice should not be considered an indication of unsanitary conditions
  • head lice should be diagnosed by a pediatrician, not by nit-screeners at school
  • and, that excessive cleaning at home/school is not needed
Most head lice infestations can be managed at home with over-the-counter medications and lice combing. There is no reason to exclude kids from school following a diagnosis of head lice. I understand that is can be a very contentious issue with parents but school administrators now have a new tool in the AAP Guidelines to back a decision to ease off on current draconian measures in the face of what is in reality a relatively minor nuisance pest.

Remember, according to the best scientific evidence, head lice do not spread disease nor are they an indication of unsanitary conditions.

 (1) Under this policy schools may prevent students from entering the building if they exhibit signs of a head lice infestation. The sign most often used is the presence of nits, or eggs, in hair. If nits are found, or even just suspected, all students may be subjected to inspection. Students that are believed to have nits may be excluded from class and sent home for treatment.

RELATED INFORMATION

Head Lice (@ LivingWithBugs)

How To Treat Head Lice At Home (@ LivingWithBugs)

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