School Kids with Head Lice: What’s the Big Deal?

Head lice is a hot topic this week, thanks to a new report from the  American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that recommends putting an end to some schools’ no-nit policies and instead, keeping kids with head lice in class. Their statement, released just this week, started with a wave of news stories and left a wake of controversy. As certified Lice Treatment Specialists who care deeply about personal care and wellness, of course we have an opinion!

The organization of medical experts known as AAP have been setting social and legal standards of pediatric care for years, weighing in on everything from car seats to athletic advice. It makes sense that they also provide information on a prevalent condition like head lice. For the millions of children ages 3 to 11 estimated to have lice infestations in the United States every year, the amount of panic and upset is probably amplified by double that number.

Unfortunately, much of the anxiety associated with head lice really is misplaced. And it is a major contribution to the stigma that surrounds this entire issue of whether to make kids with lice stay at home. It’s important to remember that head lice do not carry disease and are not a serious threat to our long-term health but are fully treatable. We know that a calm, methodical approach is hard to muster up when it involves your child but it will help you be more effective in dealing with head lice. That’s just one of the many reasons we are passionate about providing lice treatment services.

We understand the new AAP guidelines encourage schools to be more relaxed with their policies. Surely being singled out as a head lice carrier on top of missing valuable classroom time is more damaging than the infestation, itself – as long as the child isn’t overly uncomfortable. It would be even better if parents kept the following in mind regarding their children’s classmates:

“Most cases of head lice are acquired outside of school. In the report, the AAP continues to recommend that a healthy child should not be restricted from attending school because of head lice or nits (eggs). Pediatricians are encouraged to educate schools and communities that no-nit policies are unjust and should be abandoned. Children can finish the school day, be treated, and return to school.”

So what about treatment? A lot of practical information out there revolves around over-the-counter medicines and consulting your pediatrician for a prescription if necessary. Rarely mentioned is the fact that it all boils down to meticulous combing, to make sure every nit is gone. People are lead to believe that the products will kill all the nits and that is just not the case.

If you are ever in the position to help shape policy and community attitudes about head lice, remember that the little insects do not discriminate. They latch on to perfectly clean, loveable children (and adults). The professional subject matter experts at Lice Happens educate parents during an appointment on Everything They Never Wanted To Know About Head Lice, so they can feel comfortable sending their children to school without unnecessary anxiety.