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
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.
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