Kids With Head Lice Should No Longer Be Sent Home From School, New Study Says

The study, from American Academy of Pediatrics, revealed that sending a child home for head lice may resulted in an unwanted stigma

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For many parents, a child getting sent home from the classroom due to head lice is a common occurrence during the school year.

However, new guidance for diagnosing and treating head lice from the American Academy of Pediatrics could change that process.

According to a press release issued Monday, a new study from the AAP shows that head lice infestations are not a health hazard or sign of poor hygiene, and that the stigmas associated with the diagnosis can "result is psychological stress."

As part of that, the guidance shares that it is no longer necessary for a child to miss school due to head lice detection.

“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,” said Dawn Nolt, MD, MPH, FAAP, lead author of the report, written by the AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases, Committee on Practice and Ambulatory Medicine, and Section on Dermatology.

“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 says.

The release goes on to say that head lice screening programs in schools has not proven to have a significant effect in a school setting, is not cost-effective and may further "stigmatize children suspected of having head lice."

The AAP suggests instead that schools offer family education around the diagnosis, "to help increase understanding and management of head lice in the community."

The AAP, headquartered in Itasca, about 27 miles outside of Chicago, says that this is the first time it has updated its head lice treatment guidance since 2015.

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