"No nits" policies in schools not recommended

August 1, 2010

Traditionally school children suspected of having head lice have been sent to the school nurse, who would then comb through the child's hair to verify infestation.

Traditionally, school children suspected of having head lice have been sent to the school nurse, who would then comb through the child's hair to verify infestation. A child with a confirmed case of head lice would be kept in the clinic until picked up by a parent or guardian. However, according to an updated clinical report from the American Academy of Pediatrics published in the August issue of Pediatrics, there is no reason to keep children home from school because of head liceHead lice are annoying and spread easily among school children, but lice are not dangerous, and they do not spread disease. Approximately 6 to 12 million US children aged 3 to 12 years have infestations each year.

Once a child starts to show signs of head lice, he or she likely has had the infestation for 4 to 6 weeks already, so quarantine makes little sense. Children are more likely to acquire lice at sleepovers and from sharing personal items, hats, sports helmets, and toys than they are from social contact at school.

According to the study, although many schools continue to have no-nits policies, it is recommended that the school nurse would be more effective in educating staff and parents about lice and lice removal.