The Truth About Hygiene and Head Lice

Everyone has heard the gossip that only dirty people get head lice. Schools are swarming with kids who make fun of others who don’t shower, neglect to wash their hair or have unkempt clothing. So, as parents isn’t it our responsibility to teach our children the truth about head lice and hygiene? Let’s debunk the myths and face the truth. 


Truth #1: Head Lice Are Not A Result of Poor Hygiene

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention teach us that pediculus humanus capitis, commonly known as head lice, are not necessarily related to a person’s cleanliness.  In fact, a recent article in Science Daily verifies that head lice are in fact attracted to shiny, clean hair. So having poor hygiene does not mean you are more likely to catch lice. With that in mind, how can head lice be affected by hygiene?


Truth #2: Proper Hygiene Can Help Eliminate and Prevent Head Lice

Head lice are not something a person catches because they have poor hygiene. However, good hygiene is very important in preventing, spreading and eliminating head lice. Head lice are primarily spread through direct person to person contact. They do not jump, fly or hop from one head to another. For this reason sharing any type of clothing or hair accessories that touches the head such as a comb, brush, hat, helmet, is more important than how often you shampoo your hair. If someone in your home or circle of friends is found with head lice, cleanliness is key to prevention and elimination. Careful washing of clothing, towels and bedding is crucial. Place all the infected persons bedding, stuffed animals and school gear into a hot dryer for 20 minutes to eliminate live lice and kill the eggs.


Truth #3 – Teaching Hygiene to Children Can Be Tricky

As parents we all know that kids are just not that into being clean. They’d rather keep playing outside and roll around in the dirt than go inside and take a hot shower to clean it off. To eliminate and prevent head lice it is important to make sure they know how to stay clean. What age should we start teaching proper hygiene tips to our kids?


The American Academy of Dermatology offers the following guidelines:


Children aged 6 – 11

  • Twice a week at least to wash the hair and body, is recommended.
  • Daily baths are not necessary, but ok if they would like to.
  • Shower or bath after swimming, or in lake or ocean water.
  • If they are outside and their skin is dirty or sweaty, as needed.
  • Use fun bath time toys or water coloring changing tablets to make it more enjoyable.
  • Get their favorite character soap bubbles or shampoos. Or buy them a fun, hooded towel they will enjoy using.


Children aged 12+

  • At this age children can get pretty stinky. Showering or bathing daily is recommended.
  • Usually, by sixth-grade kids start to feel self-conscious about being unclean and it gets a little easier to persuade them to shower daily.
  • Buy them their own body washes and sweet smelling shampoos. Make sure they are using a good deodorant.
  • Wash their faces daily to help fight acne. Make sure to eliminate dirt and oil. 
  • Always rinse off in the shower after participating in sporting events.




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1 comment
Olivia Smart says May 31, 2023

Thank you for explaining that proper hygiene can help with eliminating head lice. My sister thinks that her kids have lice. I’ll have to share this with her to try to implement after she gets it all removed.

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