American Academy of Pediatrics updates guidance on controlling, treating lice in children, teens

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Posted at 1:56 PM, Oct 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-05 14:08:00-04

ITASCA, Ill. (WXYZ) — For the first time since 2015, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has updated its guidance about diagnosing and treating head lice which are tiny insects called Pediculus humanus capitis.

Significant stigma and psychological stress are commonly associated with a head lice diagnosis, but now, AAP says infestations are neither a health hazard or sign of poor hygiene.

In the clinical report, “Head Lice,” published this month, AAP outlines new treatments and tips for disease management as well as clarification on diagnosis and treatment of the disease.

“Head lice are an unpleasant part of the human experience, but they can be successfully managed and are no reason for a child to miss school,” said Dawn Nolt, MD, MPH, FAAP, lead author of the report, written by the AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases, Committee on Practice and Ambulatory Medicine, and Section on Dermatology.

“The AAP encourages pediatricians to serve as an educational resource for families, school districts and communities so that head lice may be treated and managed without stigma.”

Food and Drug Administration-approved products, including topicals, like shampoos, lotions and other products containing pyrethroids are considered first-line treatments for head lice. In the report, AAP also details alternative treatments for children or teens suffering from various forms of treatment resistant head lice.

AAP says in-school head lice screening programs have not been proven to be effective over time on the frequency of head lice in schools nor are they cost-effective. AAP also says these programs may stigmatize children suffering with head lice. AAP now advises schools to offer educational programs to educate families about the management of head lice in the community.

Treatments that are safe and age-appropriate, AAP says, should eradicate live lice and nits and should be affordable and easy to use. AAP encourages parents to contact their pediatrician to obtain a proper diagnosis and use of head lice treatment products.

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