Can Black People Get Head Lice? Things To Know

Can Black People Get Head Lice? Things To Know

Insect parasites known as head lice feed on human scalp blood. Since they do not care about the scalp’s color, the usual hair oils and products used on Black hair are insufficient to either prevent or eradicate them.

If you’re Black, you probably heard as a child that we “don’t get” lice, but that’s not entirely accurate. 

Can black people get head lice? Contrary to common belief, black people can acquire head lice. Let’s dig out more by reading this article.

Signs Of Head Lice In Hair

Head lice symptoms and telltale signs include:

  • presence of insects that are black or gray and about 2–3 millimeters (mm) long with six clawed legs
  • an itching or tickling sensation in the hair
  • feeling or seeing movement in the hair, including crawling but not hopping or flying
  • trouble sleeping, as head lice are most active when it is dark
  • sores on the head from scratching, which may lead to an infection

Those who have head lice can also search for eggs. On dark hair, the empty egg casings might be easier to see than the lice, which are typically white. Eggs are usually within 4 mm of the scalp and are about 0.8 mm by 0.3 mm in size.

How To Check For Lice?

There are several places where people can check for lice:

  • the scalp and crown of the head
  • around and behind the ears
  • the neckline at the back of the head
head lice

Why Are Head Lice Uncommon In Black People?

The majority of researchers concur that Black hair is resistant to the head lice strains that are prevalent in the West because of the shape of the hair follicle. In contrast to Black hair, which has a more oval cross-section, most Caucasian hair is circular in shape.

Since millions of years ago, lice have developed alongside humans. The head lice species now present in the West are descended from clade B, one of three clades (families) that scientists have identified. It should come as no surprise that this clade has evolved perfectly to cling to the round hair follicles of their only hosts given that it can be traced through Europe, North America, and Australia.

On the African continent, evidence of a different species of head (and body) lice has been found, which is an interesting development. Biologists have discovered that these lice are descendants of clade A, having evolved alongside their hosts on the African continent. They thrive in more oval-shaped Black hair.

Is Normal Head Lice Treatments Useful on Black Hair?

The good news is that the same treatments that work in Caucasian hair will also work in Black hair if you do need to treat a case of head lice in Black hair.

The bad news is that most conventional head lice treatments don’t actually work in any hair anymore. Since humans have created drugs like permethrin and pyrethrin, the active ingredients in the majority of over-the-counter lice treatments, head lice have become resistant to them. Head lice continue to develop alongside humans.

These hardy strains, which we refer to as “super lice,” account for 98% of head lice cases in the United States.

Resuming the positive news: Many natural solutions are effective against normal lice and super lice. Additionally, they are safer for you and your family.

Science On Lice & Black Hair

There are many explanations for why it seems that Black people don’t get head lice as frequently. Less is produced in the field of science, though. “[Any theories [are] founded on data from observational studies, according to Dr. In addition, King notes that various studies have produced contradictory results.”

Here is a sample of the data we are using: Black children weren’t initially included in a 1985 study in Hillsborough County, Florida that examined the prevalence of lice in elementary school students. In contrast, the study’s authors found that none of the 436 Black students in the study had lice, while 97 (6.4 percent) of the 1,515 white, Latino, and Asian students did. The research was carried out between 1986 and 1987. The book Cutaneous Infestations and Insect Bites by The same Florida study, which found that the prevalence of lice was 35 times higher in Caucasians and other races (such as Asians) than in Black people, was discussed by Milton Orkin and Howard Maibach.

Treating Lice In Afro-textured Hair

So, yes, Black people can get lice. However, kinky hair textures make it more difficult to spot the parasite and treat it. To treat lice, you can apply topical medications that you can leave on your scalp and hair. Nit combs, which are frequently included in head lice treatment kits, are recommended by the CDC for gently removing lice and nits from the hair. The comb’s extremely small spokes make it challenging to maneuver through curly, kinky hair. “Because they simply won’t pass through our hair, in the same way, we are unable to use those chemicals and combs to treat the problem, says Deborah. “Basically, we made use of the internet.”

She’s right; protective hairstyles like locks, braids, or weaves make it much more difficult to use fine-tooth combs to find lice and nits. We frequently use wide-tooth combs on our hair because fine-tooth combs can break your hair even if it is not styled in a protective way.


While it is true that lice don’t affect black people as frequently, this is not true.

Any person with any type of hair can get rid of head lice using the same procedure. Because head lice can spread between people, it is crucial to check every member of the household. If head lice treatments are not working, a patient should consult a doctor.

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