Can Black People Get Lice? Know Everything About It 

Can black people get lice? Believe it or not, it is one of the most common questions on the internet regarding head lice. The answer to this is that African Americans get lice but what seems to be different is that it is not a very common problem. 

According to a high-grade study conducted in 1985, approximately 10% of Caucasian children got lice, while only 0.3% were African Americans. Now the question lies why is there such a huge difference? The logic is very much understandable. If only 0.3% of African American children get lice, then it is easy to understand why so many people think can black people get lice in their hair. 

One of the most popular parasitologists and the inventor of the remarkable AirAllé Head Lice Treatment device, Dr. Dale Clayton, said, “African-American hair is shaped differently than Caucasian, Hispanic, or Asian hair, and lice have a hard time getting their grasping hooks around the shaft.

Since lice are uniquely adapted to crawl along a hair shaft, lice glue their eggs to the hair shaft, which often prevents African Americans from getting head lice. Contrary to popular belief, cultural use of oils doesn’t affect this much. It is, in fact, the different shape of the hair shaft that typically insulates the African American population from contracting head lice”. 

Many studies have been conducted over time on such children who have both African American parents and one Non-African parent to find out the answer to the question: can black people get head lice? The results have always indicated that the incidence of lice in the hair is very low for the former type of children. But it can’t be denied that black people don’t get lice in their hair. 

In this blog, we will have a detailed discussion of do black people get lice on their heads and understand the interrelation of head lice and black people, how do you get lice, and much more. But before we dive in, let’s first understand the clear definition of head lice.

What Are Head Lice?

can black people get lice


Head lice are minute insects that choose human hair as their living space. They are not fatal to human health, but head lice are responsible for some awkward problems like itching in your scalp and difficulty getting good sleep. Head lice are very contagious. They can easily spread among people in the same school or household. 

Some people are not much prone to head lice. They are less susceptible. And African Americans or black people are one among them. Thus, they get affected by lice quite less than the pure Americans or people from other parts of the world. 

One of the biggest reasons why black people don’t get so much head lice is because they usually have coily hair; as a result of their coily hair texture, it becomes difficult for head lice to navigate in their hair, and that’s how they become less susceptible to this head insect. 

However, there are studies and hypotheses which state that it is not only the kinky hair textures that prevent lice from thriving in the hair of black people. There are several environmental and evolutionary pressures that matter. It depends on what evolutionary pressures the lice have been subjected to overtime. For example, when it comes to pubic lice, they are well suited to live in curly pubic hair. 

What Are the Symptoms of Head Lice in the Curly Hair of Black People?

can black people get lice


There are several signs and symptoms of having head lice in the curly hair of African American people. They are:

  1.  Presence of live black or gray insects with six clawed legs in the curly hair of black people.
  2.  There can be an itching or tickling sensation in the hair of black people.
  3.  .A feeling or visual appearance of movement in the hair, mostly crawling. You won’t feel like something is hopping or flying in your hair.
  4. Trouble in having a peaceful sleep as head lice are super active in a dark ambiance.
  5.  If there is extreme itching because of head lice, there can be sores followed by that.

It is also possible for people to feel the signs of head lice eggs. If there are some empty egg casings in the head, they will be visible as they will be white compared to lice. Lice are black, so difficult to see in the dark. You can mostly find lice eggs within the 4 mm area of the human scalp, and their size ranges from 0.8 mm to 0.3 mm. 

Can Using Head Products Prevent Head Lice?

Black people often use different products like oils and creams to help protect their delicate hair and manage their curls and kinks. There is a common theory that these products play a significant role in making the hair of black people inhospitable for lice. What’s more, these products can also make the hair of black people an unwanted place for head lice to lay their eggs.

Moreover, it has also been observed that applying several thick household products like mayonnaise, olive oil, margarine, thick hair gel, etc., has been proved to be an effective remedy against head lice when left overnight. It stops lice spiracles and prevents head lice from respiring. However, there are still no published trials available to prove the efficacy of these home remedies. 

However, specifying the prevalence of head lice in black people’s hair, Dr. Zeichner, one of the best parasitologists in the USA, said, “Since lice attach to the hair, they typically prefer a straight or wavy hair shaft. This shaped hair is physically easier for the louse claw to attach to. People with very curly hair, including African Americans, can get lice, although it is less common than it is in other people.”

How Can You Check Hair Lice in Curly Hair People?

can black people get lice


If you are an African American and you want to check for lice in your head, you should look into the following areas:

  1. Your Head’s Scalp and Crown 
  2. Around and Behind Your Ears 
  3. Your Neckline at the Back of Your Head 

This is not just applicable to the curly hair of black people. It is true for all, anyone who has head lice. So, if you have felt any signs of having head lice in your head, you should check for it in the above ways, and thus, you will be able to identify the smallest louse in your head. 

Also Read: Everything That You Need To Know About Dandruff Vs Dry Scalp

How Can You Treat Hair Lice in the Curly Hair of African Americans?

can black people get lice


There are no specific ways to get rid of head lice in curly hair. They are the same regardless of what type of hair you have. We will discuss the treating steps of head lice in human hair below:

  1. First of all, if you have hair extensions, wigs, or hairpieces, you need to remove them before starting to treat them. Just find a place with a good amount of light and remove all your hair accessories. 
  2. Now you need to wet the hair and divide it into different sections 
  3. Next, you need to apply a lice treatment or any effective home remedy like coconut oil on your hair 
  4. Make sure you move a louse comb through your hair in different sections so that you can completely remove any lice present in your head and their eggs.
  5.  Then you need to rinse out any excess product from your hair using a shower head or running tap 
  6. Last but not least, it is very important to check if anyone else in the house has the same problem. It will prevent from further spreading

After you are done with the treatment, you need to check your hair again after 8-12 hours of the treatment and don’t wash it again until the next two days of the treatment. Also, you should comb through your hair at least one time a day to remove any dead lice in your head, if present. 

If you think that the above home remedies are not working for your hair, you should see a healthcare professional immediately. 

This was all about preventing head lice in a typical scenario. But according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, the African American people should also follow the below extra tips to prevent head lice along with what we have already discussed above. 

Read on

  • Washing hair thoroughly is crucial at least once a week or every alternate week.
  • Using a conditioner in every hair wash is very important. It needs to be ensured to coat the ends of the hair completely.
  • Having a hot oil treatment a couple of times in the month can be helpful.
  • Applying a heat-protecting product to your wet hair before you style it can protect curly hair from head lice
  • Using either a ceramic or an iron comb for pressing your hair can prove to be extremely beneficial.
  • People with curly hair should ensure that their braids or weaves are not very tight. If they are easy and loose, it will prevent the growth of head lice in their head. 

The Bottom Line

Though head lice are very less common in African American people than people from other origins, it is because they have very curly hair from birth that makes it difficult for head lice to grip their hair. However, from what we have discussed above, it can be clearly stated that African American or black people can still suffer from the head lice problem. So, if there are any symptoms, they should continuously check for head lice. All that the black people need to do to prevent head lice is take the necessary precautions and stay alert.

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