March 10th, 2014 | The Blog
Lice. The word scares every parent, teacher and school nurse. In the big picture, what does it really mean?
Parents feel a true sense of embarrassment when they get that call or note from the school nurse stating that their child or some other child in the class has lice.
The tiny glossy lice eggs embed in the hair along the scalp surface. Most schools have a no-nit policy. Let the lice removal or picking begin.
One-third of cases with nits, when left untreated, continue on to have an issue with lice.
The Current Treatment
Most lice-treating products involve an initial shampoo treatment followed by a second medicated shampoo one week later.
The New Recommendations
Head lice pose no health threat to the individual, according to public health experts. The new thought is that a no-nit policy is unnecessary.
The American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) has voiced concern about young students unnecessarily missing a week or more of school under the current no-nit policies. The AAP has worked at getting schools to adopt the new, more liberal policy for over ten years.
The AAP makes their point about getting rid of the current school lice policies by stating that checking for lice on every child is futile. Schools do not routinely check for strep throat or chicken pox, both of which are more dangerous than lice.
Some school systems have taken the new recommendation and discontinued the no-nit policies. How are lice findings handled?
Recent statistics show that about 60% of childhood head lice are resistant to over-the-counter chemical treatments, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.
Lice do respond to the newer treatments available, many of which are prescription strength. Malathion or Ovide is one such lice treatment. Unfortunately, many health insurance companies do not cover these treatments and they are costly, about $100 for a usual course of treatment.
Some health insurance companies require a child to undergo the readily available over-the-counter treatment before they will cover a prescription strength treatment. If lice survive the OTC treatment, some insurance companies will then pay for the prescription.
The Bottom Line
The earlier the treatment for lice begins, the more effective and the easier the situation is to control. Vigilance is a key factor. Parents should screen their children regularly, about weekly, for lice. Young children can be readily checked during bath time or when their hair is being combed or braided for school.