HomeHealthChildren with head lice do not need to leave school: report

Children with head lice do not need to leave school: report


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Health experts from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) say children don’t have to be sent home from school if they have head lice.

The Illinois-based Association of Pediatricians issued a clinical report on Monday, September 26, stating that head lice are not a “health hazard” because they are not disease-related and have a low rate of transmission.

“There is significant stigma that results from head lice infestations in high-income countries, resulting in children and adolescents being excluded from their schools, friends, and other social events,” the AAP report says. “Head lice can be psychologically stressful for the affected individual.”

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The AAP recommends against “no nits” policies that prohibit students from attending school while they have a lice infestation.

The association warned that such policies have not proven effective and could put a school at legal risk because it may violate students’ civil liberties.

Caregivers and medical professionals should instead focus on providing head lice education and treatment, according to the AAP.

Treatment options include U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved pediculicides (lice-killing agents), including permethrin 1% lotion, pyrethrin and piperonyl butoxide shampoo, 0 ivermectin lotion, 5% or one 3-milligram tablet of ivermectin, 0.5% malathion lotion, and 0.9% spinosad. suspension.

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Alternative treatments recommended by the AAP include the use of botanical agents to kill or repel lice, occlusive agents, desiccants, and manual removal.

A child is treated for head lice in this stock image.
(iStock)

– Botanical agents to kill or repel lice: Various essential oils, such as Ageratum, Aloysia, Aniba, Annona, Cananga [ylang ylang]Cinnamomum, Cocos, Curcuma, Elletaria, Eucalyptus, Eugenia, Geranium, Heliantus, Juniperus, Lavandula, Lippia, Litsea, Melaleuca, Melia, Mentha, Monarda, Myrcianthes, Origanum, Pimpinella, Rosmarinus, Salvia, Schinus, Tagetes, tea tree, Zingiberaceae or citronella

– Occlusive agents: Home remedies made with petroleum jelly, mayonnaise, melted butter or margarine, olive oil, dimethicone, or facial cleanser

– Desiccants: Natrum muriaticum, isopropyl myristate, or an AirAllĂ© device

– Manual removal: Physical and electronic nit combs, vinegar-based products, or hair shaving

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Caregivers and school personnel who do not have a background in health care should contact medical professionals if individual or community-wide lice infestations show resistance to over-the-counter treatments, according to the AAP report.

The AAP also noted that lice can’t hop or jump and can only travel by crawling, meaning transmission typically occurs between people who have direct contact with lice-infested hair.

A barber cuts a child's hair with scissors in a barbershop.

A barber cuts a child’s hair with scissors in a barbershop.
(iStock)

Head-to-head contact is the most common method of transmission, but indirect spread can occur when someone comes in contact with personal items that are shared with a person infested with lice, such as combs, brushes, hats, and sports helmets.

These indirect transmission methods are “much less likely to occur,” according to the AAP.

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“Lice found on combs are likely to be injured or dead, and a louse is unlikely to leave a healthy head unless there is a heavy infestation,” the AAP wrote in its updated report.

“In one study, live lice were found on only 4% of pillowcases used by infested individuals,” the AAP continued. “Therefore, the primary focus of control activities should be to reduce the number of lice on an individual’s head and to decrease the risks of head-to-head contact.”

Lice are wingless parasitic insects that can be found on the human head, eyebrows, eyelashes, and other hair-covered parts of the body.

Lice are wingless parasitic insects that can be found on the human head, eyebrows, eyelashes, and other hair-covered parts of the body.
(iStock)

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) agrees with the AAP’s position on head lice in schools.

The national health agency acknowledges that head lice can be a “nuisance” on its “Information on Head Lice in Schools” webpage, but the CDC goes on to say that these parasitic insects have not been shown to spread disease and are not an indicator of poor personal hygiene or cleanliness.

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“Students diagnosed with live lice do not need to be sent home earlier from school; they may go home at the end of the day, receive treatment, and return to class after appropriate treatment has begun,” the CDC wrote. “Nits may persist after treatment, but successful treatment should kill crawling lice.”



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