HEAD LICE: New guidelines for parents and schools

In an updated clinical report by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), pediatricians say that a healthy child should not be restricted from attending class because of head lice. According to the report, head lice have low contagion within classrooms, and it's mostly contracted outside the school.

"Pediatricians are encouraged to educate schools and communities that no-nit policies are unjust and should be abandoned," the AAP said in a press release. "Children can finish the school day, be treated, and return to school."

Head lice screening programs have not been proven to have a significant effect over time on the incidence of head lice in the school setting and are not cost-effective, the report said.

How should you treat lice?

Pediatricians and parents should consider using over-the-counter medications containing 1 percent permethrin or pyrethrins as a first choice of treatment for active lice infestations.

"The best way to interrupt a chronic lice problem is with regular checks by parents and early treatment with a safe, affordable, over-the-counter pediculicide," the AAP said. "After applying the product according to the manufacturer's instructions, parents should follow with nit removal and wet combing. The treatment should be reapplied at day 9, and if needed, at day 18."

Preventable measures

While it is unlikely to prevent all cases of head lice, children should be taught not to share personal items such as combs, brushes, and hats, the AAP said. Regular observation by parents can also be an effective way to detect and quickly treat head lice infestations.

To view the full report, click here.