September 20, 2010, 5:41 pm Should Head Lice Keep Kids Home From School?
By TARA PARKER-POPE
In today’s Personal Health column, Jane Brody writes about the new research on head lice.
Infestations are commonly misdiagnosed. By some estimates, at least half of the young children treated for head lice — even forbidden to attend school, in some cities and states with “no nit” policies — no longer have them or were never infested in the first place.
Schools that check children for lice often rely on nurses and parents ill equipped to detect an active lice infestation. In one study of more than 600 samples of presumed lice or eggs submitted by teachers, parents, nurses and physicians, about two-thirds turned out to be dandruff, scabs, dirt, plugs of skin cells, hair spray droplets, other insects or eggs that were no longer viable or already hatched.
Surprisingly, doctors now say children shouldn’t be routinely screened at school or kept home because of lice. To learn more, read the full column, “Parents, Relax. Don’t Keep Them From School. It’s Just Lice.”