AAP Offers Updated Guidance on Treating Head Lice

July 28, 2010

Children should not miss school because of head lice, according to a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics that offers updated protocols for diagnosis and treatment.

Children should not miss school because of head lice, according to a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics offering updated protocols for the diagnosis and treatment of lice.

The recommendations, which appear in the August issue of Pediatrics, state that “while inconvenient, head lice cause no medical harm and can be effectively treated.” The infestations that commonly appear in school-aged children “are not a health hazard or a sign of poor hygiene and, in contrast to body lice, are not responsible for the spread of any disease,” according to AAP.

The revised clinical report—authored by Barbara L. Frankowski and Joseph A. Bocchini, Jr.—also provides guidance for the management of children with head lice in the school setting, advising that “no-nit policies for return to school” be abandoned, and stressing that informed nurses can help with suggestions about treatment. Parents are instructed to “carefully check a child’s head before and after attending a sleepover or camp where children share sleeping quarters.”

Treatment is also covered, with the authors recommending 1% permethrin lotion as initial treatment for most head lice infestations, with a second application 7 10 days after the first. Because not all products and techniques have been evaluated for safety and effectiveness, “parents and caregivers should make sure that any treatment chosen is safe; preferred treatments would be those which are easy to use, reasonably priced, and proven to be non toxic,” they advise.

To access the full report, click here.