Kids with lice don’t need to be sent home from school: pediatricians say

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Published: Sep. 30, 2022 at 11:34 AM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Let students infected with lice return to class. That’s the new guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics. The organization also recommended schools stop screening children for lice.

“Head lice are an unpleasant part of the human experience, but they can be successfully managed and are no reason for a child to miss school,” Dawn Nolt, MD, wrote.

The organization updated its guidance following the publication this week of a new clinical report in the October 2022 issue of Pediatrics, its flagship journal. The report included new and clarified treatment methods for head lice and another way patients can get rid of the parasites.

The AAP revised its recommendations after determining lice is not a health hazard or an indicator the student has poor hygiene. Conversely, researchers found current methods used by schools could be stigmatizing for the child and create additional psychological stress.

“The AAP encourages pediatricians to serve as an educational resource for families, school districts and communities so that head lice may be treated and managed without stigma,” Nolt continued.

The organization also claimed the lice screening programs implemented by schools have not significantly reduced the incidence of lice, nor is it cost-effective. Like sending students home for lice, the programs could stigmatize children suspected of being infected. Rather than checking scalps, AAP states schools should launch educational programs designed to show families how to avoid the tiny bugs.