Kids Got Lice? Doctors Now Say They Should Go to School Anyway

by Laurie Ulster
Originally Published: 

But now doctors are saying you don’t need to keep them home after all, because lice aren’t the contagious nightmares we’ve always thought they were. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that it’s direct, head-to-head contact that spreads lice, so unless your kid is rubbing heads with someone else’s, like the Coneheads used to, nobody has anything to worry about.

Well, almost. Kids share hats, which WILL spread the lice around. Hair brushes, combs, and sheets need to be dealt with as well when lice strikes, but most of those items don’t usually find their way to school. (At least the elementary school kids aren’t bringing hairbrushes; I’m lucky if I can get one to come near their heads at home.)

Okay, so now I know that if my kids get lice, they don’t have to be outcasts. Phew! Now for the bad news: one, it’s still a total pain in the ass to deal with; and two, the new guidelines say that routine lice checks at school aren’t really helpful, which means I, the mom (or my husband, the dad), should be doing lice checks at home.

This is not on my list of fun parental tasks. Once the kids got old enough to wipe their own butts, brush their own teeth, and scrub themselves clean in the shower, I thought we were home free from such personal, sometimes gooey hygiene-related tasks (unless they’re sick, which is a bodily fluids game changer), but no. Now instead of relying on the amazing, sacrificing parent volunteers who show up at our school to check the kids’ heads, I have to do it myself. Time to run out and by a nit-comb.

Yeah, it’s called a nit-comb.

The AAP offered up some other useful guidelines, which include discouraging certain home remedies for getting rid of the lice and their pesky, stubborn eggs. Apparently parents have been trying all kinds of things that would never have occurred to me (in my blissful lice ignorance), like mayonnaise, butter, and even WD-40 and vodka. I can definitely suggest that you not combine the home treatment of vodka with the new suggestion of sending your kid back to school, because then you’ll get a very different phone call from a very different organization looking out for your child’s welfare.

But it’s still good news. This might actually help remove the stigma from the whole lice thing, as people realize that it’s not contagious they way they think, the lice don’t actually spread disease, and getting lice doesn’t mean you’re dirty. It does mean that hat-swapping’s off the table, though.

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