Do dirty kids get lice?

Five-year-old Kaye loves to make mud pies; her best friend Faye prefers to play with dolls. Kaye usually puts on outfits straight off the floor or out of the hamper; Faye chooses only freshly washed and pressed threads. Kaye rarely brushes her hair and has to be bribed to take a bath; Faye bathes daily in strawberry-scented bubbles and owns a different comb for every day of the week.

Now for the quiz: Which child is more likely to get head lice?

Answer: Neither. Or rather, either.

As BabyCenter reports, head lice are "equal-opportunity parasites" who don't give a flying flip how clean your hair is, how nice your clothes are, or even how much your house costs.

The idea that lice are of the result of poor hygiene or poverty is a myth - one that has been around for generations. "I used to associate lice with 'dirty,' because that's what my grandmother taught my mother, so it's what my mother taught me," says one BabyCenter mom. "It wasn't until my sister got lice that I realized it has nothing to do with cleanliness, it's about being in the wrong place at the wrong time."

So if your child brings home lice, take a deep breath and put down that household cleanser - it's not your fault, and it's not even your sloppy neighbor's fault. Lice happens.

Who does an infestation happen to the most? Think preschool and elementary school kids. They tend to be more touchy-feely than their older counterparts and are therefore more likely to put their heads together, giving the lice an easy route to a nice new home. Contrary to popular belief, lice can't jump or fly, but they make good use of crawling. So when Kaye and Faye come home from school and feed that delicious mud pie to Faye's favorite doll, they might both start scratching their heads. Who was infested first? Only the lice would know.

Related links:

Head Lice Survival Guide

How to tell if your child has head lice

How to get rid of lice in your child's hair

About over-the-counter head lice medicine

How to use over-the-counter head lice medicine

Lice combs and how to use them

Lice removal services and salons

How to get the lice out of your home