Why Hygiene Has Nothing to do with Lice

A common stigma associated with having head lice is that the person must have bad hygiene. 

For most people, the idea of head lice makes them automatically itchy and grossed out.  While lice can be gross, an infestation has more to do with who a person has been in contact with recently, not bad hygiene.  When it comes to finding a host, lice do not discriminate between a clean scalp and dirty scalp.  They thing they’re looking for is blood, as lice are parasites that live off of human hosts for survival. 

According to the CDC, Personal hygiene or cleanliness in the home or school has nothing to do with getting head lice.

Lice spread via head to head contact.  Children are the most susceptible to getting head lice, no matter how clean or dirty the kids are.  Because kids play and work closely together, their heads are always touching.  The most common way for head lice to spread is from direct head to head contact.  Lice do not fly or jump, but they do crawl rapidly. 

Both Dr. Noss and Beckie Schaffer point out lice is common. It knows no socio-economic boundaries and has nothing to do with a child’s or a family’s hygiene.  Read more…

There are some preventative measures that can be taken to avoid getting head lice.  Though it is uncommon to get head lice from objects such as hats and coats, it is wise to teach children not to share these items.  If children nap at school, advise them to stick to their own areas.  For girls, braiding hair or tying it back is also a good preventative measure when it comes to head lice.  Additionally, sanitizing the house after an infestation isn’t as necessary as most people think.  Lice cannot live without a host for more than 24 hours and therefore spreading lice through objects in the home is a relatively small risk. 



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