Head lice policy changes in schools have parents in disarray and they are not happy about it. The American Academy of Pediatrics released an article recently with the mindset that head lice infestations are not spread at school. As Lice Removal Specialist, we have treated many children over the years. We have had multiple children from the same schools in our chairs being treated at the same time! Any social gathering that includes a large number of children provides the opportunity for a louse to transfer, whether it be gymnastics, baseball, track meets, plays, sleepovers, play dates or bus rides. So what makes schools any different? Well absolutely NOTHING! Where there are children, there are head lice infestations….common sense wins guys!!
According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they have estimated that there are approximately 6-12 million head lice infestations in school aged children, ages 3-12, each year.
Just to break it down…Children are in school anywhere from 6 to 7.5 hours a day, depending on the school district in which you reside. This means that if children are in school for roughly 180 days…6 hours a day, they are spending approximately 1080 hours in school throughout the year. A louse only needs 3 seconds to transfer to a new host. WOW! Think about that for just a second. Now you see my point. That is a lot of time for a lot of lice to find a new home.
Researchers have found that parents and caregivers of infected children suffer consequences as well. It is true that lice do not carry disease nor do they discriminate against clean vs dirty hair, but it is still quite mentally, physically and emotionally overwhelming. The social stigma is very real. It causes unnecessary fear, anxiety, and even psychological trauma that can be very isolating.
What I am getting at here is that by keeping children in school with head lice, we accomplish absolutely nothing, except for the promise of the spread of head lice throughout the student population attending these schools. As lice removal specialists, we know that there is no single one way to eliminate the spread of head lice but we do know that there are certain steps we can take to prevent it. Knowledge is power, and this is definitely the case where lice are concerned.