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How to Get Rid of Lice in Dreadlocks

How to Get Rid of Lice in Dreadlocks
Created on 
September 28, 2020
Updated on 
January 31, 2023

Much like lice removal forming dreadlocks requires time and patience. However, dreadlocks and lice do not mix. Upon discovering head lice in dreadlocks, you definitely want to find an effective lice treatment quickly before the problem gets worse if it isn't already out of hand.

As you contemplate your options for effective lice in dreadlocks treatment, understand that the most effective solution for how to remove lice from dreadlocks is often first to get rid of the dreadlocks. Before you take such a drastic step, you will want first to determine if you have head lice and what other treatment options may be effective at removing lice from dreadlocks.

Can People With Dreads Get Lice?

Yes, any human with hair can. Read on to find out more about head lice in black dreads or white dreads; as both have the same risk, despite the common myths.

Do I Need to Cut My Dreadlocks If I Get Lice?

In theory, constantly saturating your hair strands with oil will kill the lice as the bugs hatch, if the oil can reach the lice inside the locs, but no one can guarantee that the oil will find a louse that has burrowed into a dreadlock. In fact, most people will not be able to find bugs that are hiding inside of the locs. In addition, there is no dreadlock shampoo that will kill lice. Also, there will still be nits (eggs) inside the locs that need to be removed; it's nearly impossible to remove the nits and lice in dreads, so unlocking is a good start.


If you've recently found these unwanted visitors in dreadlocks, you probably wonder if the lack of brushing or possibly a poor hair care regimen contributed to the problem. We can reassure you - this is not a sign of poor hygiene. On the contrary, strands that are clean are easier for lice to grab onto, which is the cause of this situation. People who shampoo their dreads regularly without applying any product are more at risk of getting infected.

How to Tell If You Have Lice In Dreadlocks?

Before you start looking for how to get rid of head lice in dreadlocks or how to get rid of lice eggs in dreadlocks, confirm your case first.

The search for bugs and nits in dreadlocks is not as straightforward and direct or as easy as finding lice in hair that does not have dreadlocks. A standard check involves a thorough inspection of the individual strands of hair, focusing mostly on the part of the hair strand that is within three-quarters of an inch of the scalp for eggs. Since dreadlocks are formed by matting the strands of hair, whether intentionally or inadvertently due to an absence of combing, the standard method for finding lice does not apply when looking for them within dreads.

To determine whether you have head lice in your dreadlocks, start by setting up in a very well-lit area; outside is usually best for this. Very carefully examine each lock on the head, focusing your attention closer to the root looking for lice eggs (nits). These eggs are laid on the strands. If you are unsure of what you are looking at, gently flick or blow air on the hair. If it moves or flakes off of the hair easily, then it is not a louse egg. If it sticks to the hair very tightly, pull it off with your fingernails. This is likely a nit, but to confirm whether it is a louse egg or not, put it on a white paper towel or another white background. If it blends in with the white background, it is not an egg, and rather, it could be dandruff, a grooming product, a hair cast, or a DEC plug. If it appears tan or brownish colored and is teardrop-shaped with a tiny hair-like antenna protruding from one end,  it is likely a nit, and a diagnosis of lice is likely.

If you have head lice and dreads, what would be the next course of action? How do you get lice and nits out of dreads?

Lice In Dreadlocks

How To Treat Lice In Dreadlocks?

After confirming that you do have a head lice case in your dreads, you need to know how to get the lice out and ideally how to prevent lice in the future.

We know that there is no chemical option that will give you a quick answer to how to treat head lice in this situation. When clients call us looking for dreadlocks lice removal or answers to how to remove head lice from dreadlocks, the quickest way to do so is to remove the locks by cutting them off and then performing the treatment. That is certainly the easiest solution, but we realize that is a tough ask.

So please understand that treatments in non-locked hair are time-consuming and tedious, so head lice dreadlocks treatment, to be effective, will be even more time-consuming and tedious in order to kill the lice. There is no shampoo that will kill lice so no need to try to wash out the bugs.

However, it can be done given the proper tools and an abundance of patience. Follow the below steps outlining how to get rid of these parasites in dreads.

Step 1: Combing

To begin your dreadlocks lice treatment, start by getting a product that can help you unlock, like Murray's Spray Unlock, or olive oil.

Keep the head well oiled throughout this process. Saturate the locks – do not skimp. Bonus – any live bugs will be slowed down and, eventually, will suffocate to death. We caution you that it is advisable to cut off the locks rather than attempting to comb them out, as this combing is very challenging and may be impossible.

How to Treat Head Lice in Dreadlocks

Step 2: Process Each Lock

Start at the bottom of each of the dreads with a comb, gently picking your way through the tangles in the lock. Take it millimeter by millimeter, combing each time to the ends of the released hair as it is freed until you reach the scalp. Repeat with each lock.

Step 3: Treat Your Hair

If you are successful in unlocking the dreadlocks, how to remove head lice from them is the same as any hairstyle: picking. There are no chemicals or home remedies that kill all nits, which is why dreadlocks are hard to treat in the first place.

At this point, you can always call LiceDoctors to do the rest for you.

Oil again until dripping. Some folks prefer using coconut oil or apple cider vinegar or using a spray bottle of essential oils such as lavender or peppermint; we recommend olive oil. Section hair and comb from root to tip with the Nit Free Terminator Nit Comb. Keep combing each small section until you no longer find eggs or bugs. You need to kill all the lice or your case will return. Do the entire head. Wash and dry hair, and do a strand-by-strand inspection for nits.

How to Treat Head Lice Dreadlocks

Step 4: Don't Be Too Fast To Re-Lock Your Hair

We've just told you how to get lice out of dreads, but here's how to eliminate these bugs for good: keep oiling and checking. LiceDoctors treatment comes with an aftercare plan that will ensure the case doesn't recur. Eradication is a process you cannot rush. With our lice treatment service, complete your after-care plan in its entirety. Before starting over again with dreadlocks, which is a long commitment that is not easily undone, we recommend waiting at least one month after an infestation is treated to lock your hair again. This will ensure that the case is completely gone. You can help prevent a reoccurrence by using repellent lice shampoo or adding a few drops of tea tree oil to your hair to ward off the bugs. The downside of tea tree oil is that it may provoke an allergic reaction.

Conclusion — Head Lice In Your Locks?

While this might be the worst possible scenario that individuals with dreadlocks face, it is not the end of the world. LiceDoctors can help you get rid of these parasites even if you have had dreadlocks. Children are most likely to come into contact with lice so keep that in mind.

Whether you choose to cut off the dreadlocks and need help getting eradicating these creatures afterward or you have the time, energy, patience, and resources required to unlock your dreads but run out of steam when it comes time to get rid of your infestation, call LiceDoctors!

There is no need to panic. Technicians are experts at removal methods, will deliver results, and can even provide practical suggestions to prevent lice again, whether you choose to keep your hair unlocked or not.



We provide a friendly in-home lice removal service

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