Updated on September 29, 2020
By: Karen Sokoloff
Posted: March 26, 2019
Updated by: Tierna Moser
Updated: July 3, 2020
Yes, it is possible to get head lice if you have locs (dreadlocks). Lice do not respect hair texture. Although, they would prefer straight and loose curls, their strong desire for blood supersedes their personal preferences.
Can People With Dreadlocks Get Lice?
Dreadlocks are rope-like strands of hair that have been formed by matting intentionally or due to long-term absence of combing. While you may never hear of someone with dread locks getting head lice, don’t be lulled into a false sense of security. While lice prefer non-locked hair which is easier for them to grab onto, it is a very real possibility that you may get head lice as well if you have dreadlocks. All a louse needs is the warmth of the human head and their food source, blood from the scalp of a human head, to survive. So while not providing the ideal environment, lice can, and do, survive on heads with dreadlocks.
Do I Have To Cut My Dreadlocks If I Have Lice?
The most effective way to get rid of head lice starts with the killing, or removal of the live bugs from the hair. After that, every single nit must be removed from the hair before it hatches by way of combing with a professional grade nit comb and hand picking the hair to ensure the removal of remaining nits. With just two nits left in the hair, an infestation may begin all over again. Because dreadlocks consist of many strands of hair matted together, it is impossible to ensure all of the nits are removed from the hair, thus, a case of head lice is impossible to treat with this method if the dreadlocks remain intact. Chemical treatments are ineffective against head lice on individuals with dreadlocks as well. Even if these chemicals are able to effectively saturate the entirety of the dreadlocks to kill all of the bugs, nothing will kill the nits (lice eggs). To be clear, there is no guaranteed treatment against lice in the case of intact dreadlocks, and most of our clients opt to cut them off to ensure their case of head lice is eradicated.
Will Hair Dye Help To Kill Lice In Locs?
The short answer to this question is no. Hair dye, including those with a bleach base, will not be effective in the eradication of a case of head lice p, whether or not a person has dreadlocks. While some chemical hair coloring products may kill some of the bugs, there are a few reasons these products will not work. Depending on the density of the dreads, it is a possibility that the color solution will not make it to the center of the individual locks. Since lice are tiny creatures, they can and will burrow through to the center of the individual locs and survive the chemical treatment process. However, even in the incredibly minuscule circumstance that the chemical penetrates through each and every strand of hair successfully killing all of the live bugs on the head, you still have to address the lice eggs. Nothing on the market kills lice eggs...nothing. The shell of a lice egg is impenetrable, so all of the eggs have to be removed from the hair to successfully get rid of a case of head lice. With dreadlocks this is impossible. As mentioned previously, the lice can, and will, crawl to the center of the individual locks and lay eggs on the individual hair strands inside of those locs. Because of this, it is impossible to leave the locs intact and remove all of the lice eggs from the head. LiceDoctors - Does Hair Dye Kill Head Lice?
Can I Kill Lice In Dreadlocs With Alcohol?
There are prescription lice treatments that are alcohol based, such as benzyl alcohol, that are effective in treating head lice by killing the bugs. This particular treatment requires a prescription and can be very expensive to get. If it is not cost prohibitive, as is the case for many families, this treatment can be effective in killing live bugs. However, the same principles apply to this treatment as with using hair dye to get rid of head lice – even if the treatment successfully kills every bug on the head, the nits still need to be addressed. In the case of dreadlocks, again, it is impossible to effectively treat with the mats still intact.
How to Prevent and Treat Head Lice In Locs
If you haven’t yet contracted a case of head lice, we cannot stress enough how important prevention is. The old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of treatment” wholeheartedly applies here. Consider incorporating lice repellent shampoos, conditioners and sprays into your normal hair care regimen. LiceDoctors has an entire line of professional grade head lice prevention products that incorporate the scent of peppermint and/or spearmint, which act as deterrents against head lice.
Regarding treatment options, you may have already guessed it - the only 100% effective way to treat head lice in dreads is either by removal of the dreadlocks by cutting them off, which most people do not want to do, or by taking the time to untangle the locs all the way to the root of the hair. There are a variety of products available that will assist you in this process, however, there is no quick way to complete this. It will prove to be a long process requiring a considerable amount of patience that most people simply do not have.
If treated with oil, persistence is needed, but even with the most determined of individuals, this is never a guarantee. The fact still remains that, even if you are successful in eradicating lice with the locks intact, the debris from the lice infestation will always be present until it is removed. This means you will have old egg shells and parts of the bugs remaining inside the locks until the locks are removed or untangled and these remnants are combed out with a professional grade comb.
When we are contacted by clients inquiring about professional head lice treatment of dreadlocks without removal of the locs, we highly discourage scheduling of an appointment until the dreadlocks are gone. We understand that in many cases, much time and care is spent creating your dreadlocks, but in our more than 20 years of experience, it has proven the best way to ensure total eradication of head lice. Call us at 800-224-2537 if you would like to speak with a professional regarding your current circumstance, we are happy to help.