Why Schools Are Moving Away from No-Nit Policies
When kids get lice, two of the most commonly asked questions parents ask at Lice Clinics of America® — Omaha are, 1) why wasn’t I notified that lice were found at my child’s school? And, 2) why aren’t kids with lice sent home from school until they are lice-free?
“The majority of schools have moved away from ‘no-nit’ policies that require students to stay out of school until they are lice and nit free,” says David Florsheim, owner of Lice Clinics of America – Omaha. “The recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) have all stated that no-nit policies should be discontinued.”
The past decade has seen a significant shift in the medical and educational communities about how to deal with head lice. “Doctors, nurses, and teachers now recognize that head lice do not represent a serious health threat and a case of head lice does not warrant missing valuable learning time,” David said. “Also, while some schools will notify the parents of children that are found with head lice, most schools don’t warn other families or children because of the panic and blame that often take place and causes more of a problem than necessary.”
The policy changes are designed to help keep children from missing class, shield children with lice from embarrassment, and protect their privacy. The CDC lists the following reasons for the change in policy:
• Many nits are more than ¼ inch from the scalp. Such nits are usually not viable and very unlikely to hatch to become crawling full sized lice, or may, in fact, be empty shells, also known as ‘casings.’
• Nits are cemented to hair shafts and are very unlikely to be transferred successfully to other people. Direct head to head contact is often needed for most lice to move from one host to the next.
• The burden of unnecessary absenteeism to the students, families, and communities far outweighs the risks associated with head lice.
• Misdiagnosis of nits is very common during nit checks conducted by nonmedical personnel.
According to the AAP, “Most cases of head lice are acquired outside of school.” That’s why “the AAP continues to recommend that a healthy child should not be restricted from attending school because of head lice or nits (eggs). Pediatricians are encouraged to educate schools and communities that no-nit policies are unjust and should be abandoned. Children can finish the school day, be treated, and return to school without causing any harm to themselves or other students.”
The reality for most school districts is that the effort involved in keeping schools entirely lice-free would be a futile use of their limited resources. The CDC estimates that there are 6-12 million cases of head lice in children between the ages of 3-11. This means that at least 1 in 5 students have lice at any given time. In the early stages of a case of head lice, many children display no symptoms as nits, and adolescent lice, don’t bite and don’t cause the itching sensation that indicates the presence of head lice.
Keeping a school lice-free would require constant checks of the entire student body, which is unrealistic and unnecessary for a condition that is not considered an immediate health problem. That’s the conclusion that the CDC, AAP, and NASN have come to, and many school districts are following these recommendations.
“No-nit policies were developed because traditional lice treatments can take several weeks to be effective,” David said. “The first treatment is designed to kill live lice but doesn’t kill eggs, or nits. Since nits can hatch over ensuing weeks, combing and nit-picking are required with traditional treatment.These treatments are timely and costly”
“The good news for families in the Omaha area is that there are new lice treatments available that can kill live lice and nits in a single session,” David smiled. “Lice Clinics of America offers head lice treatment using a first-of-its-kind, AirAllé® medical device, which has been cleared by the FDA, clinically proven to kill live lice in more than 99 percent of nits in a single treatment, and takes about an hour.”
The AirAllé device uses carefully controlled warm air to dehydrate lice and eggs, and in the company’s network of 300+ clinics around the world, nearly 850,000 cases of head lice have been successfully treated. It uses no pesticides or chemicals and comes with a guarantee to work in one treatment.
“With the AirAllé device, your lice nightmare is over in about an hour, guaranteed,” David said. “Regardless of your school’s head lice policy, kids can go right back to school the same day and return to their friends and learning
Lice Clinics of Omaha is here to help with all of your head lice needs. We are located at 8424 West Center Road, Suite 212 in Omaha, NE. We serve Omaha as well as the areas surrounding Papilion, Fort Calhoun, and Valley. For more information or to book an appointment visit us at www.liceclinicsomaha.com or call us at 402-810-7525.