The Truth About Nits and More …

Wonder what pediatricians really think about contagious bugs in the school setting? We know you do, so here’s a comment that pretty much sums it up, written by Diana Tolen, a general pediatrician who practices in Canfield, OH.

Nits allowed in school!

The newer AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommendation to retract the ‘no nits’ policy in American schools is leaving our school nurses crawling.  It’s almost funny how everyone thinks this is such a big deal.  We are now going to have epidemics ALL OVER!  Do they forget about the fact that nits themselves don’t jump from one kid to another?  I equate it to the fact that schools have the ‘no fever, no diarrhea, no bad cough’ policy.  Basic science in medical school teaches us that we are contagious way BEFORE the fever, diarrhea and cough catch up to us, and many times way AFTER the fever (if you even have one) goes away. So other than for the child’s comfort, restricting their attendance from school when these symptoms are occurring does little to contain the actual spread of the illness.

Much to their dismay they are going to have to accept that at any time, any child could have a head crawling with lice.  And that head may or may not contain nits that someone has found yet.  But those little lice are still ready to jump onto the next waiting head of hair to escape detection for a day or so.  Then, once a parent starts treating the infected child and the live lice are gone, the nits can take quite a few days to be removed by hand.  Imagine spending 1-2 hours picking through your child’s hair until you are cross-eyed every night only to be told first thing the next morning that the nurse found a piece of dandruff that looks like a nit so they are sending her back home!

Even more ridiculous to me is the requirement that the child be ‘seen by their doctor’ and declared LICE FREE!  For starters I certainly didn’t go to medical school to learn how to diagnose lice, and second I don’t want that child in my office spreading it to other patients and staff.  Lice is not a medical condition, let’s stop treating it as such.

You can take this one to the bank, mamas!

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Ellen and Rachel are two old friends and “expert” mamas—one a pediatrician and one a family therapist—with fifty years of parenting experience between them.


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