In a new report released yesterday by the American Academy of Pediatrics, some head-scratching recommendations regarding children and head lice. The new guidelines, published in the journal ‘Pediatrics,’ say it’s okay for the child who shows signs of the little buggers to stay in school, have them removed at home using over-the-counter medications, and return to school the next day.
This, according to the country’s leading group of pediatricians. Doctors are now of the opinion that lice are definitely nuisances, but they don’t pose a health threat or justify keeping a child from getting an education. Each year, millions of schoolkids in the U.S. get head lice. According to a study, it doesn’t matter how clean or dirty your hair is. The authors of the study also wrote, “Because a child discovered to have head lice has probably had them for a month or more, they pose little risk to others, so he/she should remain in class, but be discouraged from close direct head contact with others.”
Head lice are tiny insects, about the size of a sesame seed. They feed on tiny amounts of blood from the scalp. Lice lay and attach their eggs, or “nits” on hair close to the scalp, attached by a sticky substance. Head lice live about 28 days. They can multiply quickly, laying up to 10 eggs a day. It only takes about 12 days for newly hatched eggs to reach adulthood. This cycle can repeat itself every three weeks if head lice are left untreated.
Because most cases of head lice are acquired outside of school, “a healthy child should not be restricted from attending school because of head lice or nits,” the AAP said. They do recommend that if one child in the home shows signs of head lice, that all members of the family should be checked and treated as a precaution. They also recommend washing pillowcases and treating hair brushes, combs, anything that comes in contact with the child’s head. This might even include sofa cushions, ball caps, scarves, etc.
The AAP urged treatment with an over-the-counter medicine containing one percent permethrin or pyrethrins as soon as lice are detected, and then again nine days later. If removing the lice with over-the-counter medications and then combing out the eggs and nits does not work, there are other options, available by prescription.
Your pharmacist can recommend some head lice medicines approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. Check with your child’s doctor before beginning any treatment.