Can black people get lice? If you are an Asian American or Caucasian, you might be thinking about the origin of this question.
I was also surprised after learning that people, primarily African American, often have this query. So I dig out to know whether it’s a fact, a myth, or a misconception. And I have to learn that black people can get lice, but they do not often have them.
Whether or not you are from the same ethnicity, now you must be interested to know what factors contribute to lessening their risks of getting lice so you can also incorporate them.
Summarize Here, I've compiled some facts, studies, and information to help you discover the truth and keep yourself safe.
What Are Head Lice?
Head lice, we all know, are bloodsucking parasites residing in the head scalp to get their food. They quickly hide themselves, so it’s pretty daunting to find and kill them manually.
Though they don’t cause infection or disease, individuals with head lice often suffer severe discomfort. These teeny tiny creatures cause an itching and tingling sensation that gets worse at night as it’s said they become more active in the dark. And that’s why a person often has trouble sleeping.
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What Makes Black People Resistant to Head Lice?
Regarding the concern for black people with lice, the concept prevails that they are less likely to have these bugs in their hair. Although they aren’t entirely safe, the ratio of black people with lice is significantly lower than white people.
This raises another question here. Are these tiny creatures picky of the skin color or race where they want to thrive? Why don’t black people get lice in their hair like other people?
After going through the data collected by researchers, it was noticed that two factors help black people against developing head lice.
- Their hair structure
- Their practices of haircare
Why Head Lice Less Likely to Grow in Black People’s Hair?
While the structure of hair strands is a gift from nature, the hair care practices they follow are also possible due to their hair structure.
To understand how black people’s hair is a natural deterrent for head lice, we have first to understand the nature of head lice.
These tiny creatures have six clawed legs, which help them adhere to the hair strands and move along. However, they are developed to be glued effectively to a specific hair type.
1) Curled, Coily Hair
Now, if we look at the hair structure of people of different races, we will find that the hair strands of black people possess an oval shape. However, white people, who usually have straight hair types, have circular hair strands.
Several studies claim that the oval nature of black people’s hair makes it difficult for head lice to get a good grip on their hair strands. That’s why black people have significantly lower chances of getting head lice.
2) Use of Oily Products
Again, the characteristic texture of black people’s hair, especially women, requires oils, sheens, and waxes. Using such products makes the surface of hair strands smoother, causing hindrance for head lice to get hold of them.
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What Contributes To The Spread of Head Lice in Black People?
Do you know that head lice are more likely to develop in children’s hair than adults? Rather than cleanliness or hygiene, other reasons cause head lice to spread rapidly among them.
- Head lice neither have wings nor can jump, but they can crawl faster. This ability helps them transmit from one kid to another during head-to-head contact.
- Children at school are more likely to play together. When they remain near the infected kid longer, it increases their chances of exposure to these creepy bugs.
- Suppose one of the siblings is infected and s/he is used to sharing their belongings like hair brushes, accessories, hats, scarves, pillows, or clothing. In that case, it may also contribute to the spread of lice to those who are not infected.
Can you imagine how uncomfortable it would be for your children to deal with a situation like head lice, where they might feel self-conscious or inconvenienced? Let’s also think about other children. Nobody wants their children to unintentionally cause this problem or suffer due to someone else’s mistake.
Therefore, it’s essential to educate yourself and the parents of your kid’s friends to foster healthy practices in the community and prevent the lice outbreak.
Signs and Symptoms
There are undeniable signs and symptoms you can observe if you are having head lice:
- Itching: Can be described as an allergic reaction to louse bites. The lice firmly attach themselves to the scalp to feed on your blood. During sucking, it injects its saliva, which causes an inflammation that is described as itching.
- Crawling Sensation: When carrying head lice, it’s in their nature to crawl from one hair strand to another either to get closer to the scalp or hide themselves in the dark. That’s why you may feel something crawling, particularly around the neck’s hairline or behind the ears.
- Seeing Bugs: As the lice mature, they also increase in size. They can grow up to 2 to 3 millimeters. Though the size is too small, it’s enough to make them visible sometimes in the crown region of your head.
- Finding Nits (Lice Eggs): Lice eggs are tiny and typically appear as white spots. That’s why they are more visible, but people often mistake them for dandruff. Empty shells or cases are found if the eggs have been hatched.
- Sores: Scrapes or sores may develop due to continuous itching and scratching of your scalp, leading to an infection.
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Treatment for Lice Infestation
Do black people get lice? You have now known the answer and the story behind the myth. So, here comes the most important thing to learn. How to treat head lice to get rid of them.
Treating head lice infestation is surprisingly not a tough job. However, having the patience to deal with it would be best.
- I’d suggest you seek a professional’s advice to get the best treatment. Though black people with lice can opt for natural remedies that most people do, consulting a professional will cause no harm.
- Apply the prescribed over-the-counter medicine as per their recommendation. Remove wigs or extensions and wet the hair before applying the treatment.
- Divide the hair into sections and get a fine-toothed comb known for this purpose. Move the comb through each area to remove dead lice and nits from the hair.
- Rinse your hair within the recommended time frame for better results. Also, keep using the louse comb for a few more days.
Lice detection can be challenging in individuals with textured hair. A fine-toothed or special lice comb can help identify lice or their eggs (nits). Regular inspection of the hair and scalp can also assist in early detection.
The treatment for lice infestations in black individuals is similar to individuals with other hair types. Use shampoos and lotions sold over-the-counter or on prescription to cure lice as prescribed.
Lice primarily infect the scalp and hair, requiring human blood to survive. While rare, lice can be found in other hairy body areas, such as eyebrows or eyelashes. However, their ability to survive and reproduce in these areas is limited compared to the scalp.
The Bottom Line
If you are an African American who believes you or your child won’t get head lice, you might be living in delusion. The truth is different.
As it’s observed that the factors mentioned above only act as an obstacle for head lice to stay longer in curly hair, it’s not that they can’t reside in your hair. In some cases, it’s also reported that a louse may be capable of adaptation. And once it happens, you will need extra precautions than now to prevent them from growing or spreading.