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Should Kids With Head Lice Stay Home?

There was a time when finding head lice meant you had to stay home from school until you were completely cleared. New guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics however, say bugs are no reason to miss class.

The new report issued by the AAP says that children who have nits , or lice eggs, in their hair should not be forced to miss school. According to estimates, nearly 12 million kids in the US have head lice each year. Though the bugs are itchy and annoying, they do not actually spread infection or disease. Head lice seem to pose no significant health crisis.

The AAP is also suggesting that pediatricians offer more help to parents in treating lice. Currently $1 billion is spent annually on treatment, yet not all parents know the best treatments available.

Many schools across the US have “no-nit” policies, requiring children with nits found in their hair to stay home from school. Adult lice are often difficult to spot, as they are small and move quickly through the hair. Nits, on the other hand, stay attached to the root of the hair and are easier to see. The new AAP guidelines say these types of policies offer no benefits to students.

“It makes no medical sense because the nits … they’re really stuck on the kid’s hair,” Dr. Barbara Frankowski, co-author of the report and a pediatrics professor at the University of Vermont, told Reuters Health. “I think it just sort of increases the hysteria and it makes kids miss school unnecessarily,” she added.

The authors of the new report also say that checking entire classes and schools has not proven to be an effective tool against lice infestations. Instead, school nurses should check students when they are most likely to spread the bugs around. – Summer, staff writer

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About the author


Summer is a mom of three, living life in the slow lane along historic Route 66. She writes, homeschools, gardens, and is still trying to learn how to knit.

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