Updated on July 31, 2020
By: Karen Sokoloff
Do African American People get lice?
We often get calls from families looking for an explanation for what they are finding in the hair. “We are African American – so we cannot get head lice, right? What is this bug I found on my child’s head?” It is a common belief that, because of the coarseness of the hair, African Americans cannot get a case of head lice. This, however, is a myth. The truth of the matter is, despite the texture of their hair, African American people can, and do, get head lice. In fact, often some of the most severe infestations we see are in individuals with African American hair.
Head lice like hair, they do not care what type of hair. If there is hair on the head, they can, and will, make a home there. Lice will grab onto a strand of hair, no matter what the texture, smooth or coarse, simply as a means to get to the scalp to access their food supply of human blood. So, you may wonder, why is this such a common belief if it couldn’t be further from the truth?
African Americans Do Have Lower Incidence of Head Lice
It is true that African American families do have a lower incidence of head lice than other nationalities. As part of the grooming regimen, a variety of sheens, oils and waxes are commonly used. The products create a coating on the hair which makes it more difficult for a louse to grab onto a strand and maintain the grip needed to crawl up the hair strand to get to the scalp.
Imagine, if you will, trying to climb up a rope. For most people, this presents a challenge all its own, but if the rope is squeaky clean and dry, it is much easier to maintain a firm grip and climb to the top. In contrast, rope that is wet or has an even coating of dirt or dust on it, getting and maintaining a grip to climb up to the top is far more difficult, and in some cases, impossible.
As discussed, the products used regularly by African Americans to maintain their hair do serve as an effective deterrent to getting head lice, however, they are not absolute barriers. LiceDoctors has treated many African Americans who exclude such styling products or who use them regularly but somehow contracted a case of head lice anyway.
How To Get Rid of Lice In African American Hair
Treatment for head lice in African American hair types is often more time consuming and requires a degree of patience, but is pretty much the same as with all other hair types, with only the addition of a few extra steps depending on individual circumstances. Prior to the lice treatment, any hair extensions, hair pieces, or wigs should be removed. If they are not removed, treatment will most likely fail as they provide shelter for the live bugs to hide under during treatment. After the hair extensions have been removed, all of the live bugs must be killed or otherwise removed from the hair. Since no treatment, pesticide or natural, penetrates and kills the nyph inside the eggs that are laid, all eggs must be removed from the hair as well. We recommend the use of a professional grade nit comb, such as the Terminator. To make the process faster and more comfortable, straightening of the hair is highly recommended. Application of oils also helps to make combing easier, especially for those who are tender headed.
Treatment of head lice on individuals with dreads is a bit more tricky. Unfortunately, in almost all cases, removal of the dreadlocks by cutting them off is needed to ensure effective treatment can be completed. The only other option is for the dreadlocks to be untangled prior to treatment. There are a variety of products available today to make this process easier, but since this process can take a considerable amount of time, most of our clients opt to remove the dreadlocks prior to treatment. LiceDoctors: Head Lice and African American Hair
LiceDoctors Can Help!
Technicians with LiceDoctors are experienced with head lice in all varieties and types of hair. Rest assured, when you contact LiceDoctors, the technician that will help you will treat your family in the most comfortable and convenient way possible. The professional comb they use will ensure that every live bug and all visible nits will be removed from your hair before they leave. The oil they will apply will also minimize any discomfort that comes with treatment of head lice. Call LiceDoctors at 800-224-2537 to speak with a dispatcher that will walk you through the treatment process and get you set up with a qualified technician in your area. Appointments are available every day; weekends, evenings and holidays included.