So there’s a lice outbreak at school, and you’re wondering if you should be concerned at all. You read somewhere that curly hair and lice are mutually exclusive. There are many myths out there about who is susceptible to lice and who is not. If you base your actions on all the myths on the internet, you might let your guard down...only to find that by the time you check the kids, you have a severe full-blown infestation. Let’s bust some myths regarding lice on curly hair so lice don’t catch you off guard!
Do Lice Like Curly Hair?
Can curly hair get lice, even? When moms ask us can people with curly hair get lice, we know we sound like a broken record, but as we always say: every human being with hair on their head can get head lice, period.
Some moms even find that their curly-headed daughters seem to get recurrent lice (lice that seem to go away after treatment and then come back) more than their straight-haired friends, and wonder, can lice live in curly hair longer than they do in straight hair? What’s usually going on here is the curly hair is making it trickier to find all the nits, since it is harder to see the roots of all the hairs. Also, the thickness of the hair shaft of curly hair is uneven, meaning that it may be harder for a lower quality lice comb to trap the nit and pull it off of a thinner part of curly hair. If all the nits aren’t removed, the lice will recur within weeks.
Do Lice Like Curly Or Straight Hair More?
So, everyone can catch lice, but do head lice like curly hair as much as they like straight hair? Lice like all humans. Regardless of the hair type, nearby lice will detect humans and try to get on them, and if the human has hair that comes into contact with the lice, they’ll generally be successful. But it’s not like they are attracted to any particular type of hair...the hair is just their highway to the head. See, head lice aren’t actually after your hair...they’re after your blood.
Head lice are a parasite that lives their entire lifecycle on human scalps. Lice are attracted to all humans (and, it would seem, especially to those with lower testosterone, like women and children), and just like mosquitoes will find you in the woods by your scent, lice will attempt to climb onto any nearby human. However, lice cannot jump, fly, or even walk around very well. Lice have very short legs with specialized claws, so they use hair-like monkey bars to get up to the scalp. This is also why they can move so quickly through the hair when you part it to look for them, but once you catch them and pull them out, they don’t really scamper up the comb and onto your hand. Because the hairs near the scalp are very close together whether curly or straight, lice can move just as easily through either hair type.
People with curly hair do tend to have one major advantage, however, but it all comes down to nurture rather than nature: they tend to wash their hair less frequently and use more products than people with straight hair. All human hair follicles produce natural oils that help protect the scalp and the hair from environmental damage. Round, straight hair follicles that grow straight hairs actually produce more oil that spreads through the hair more quickly. Straight hair that is coated in oil is lank, limp, and hard to style. People with straight hair typically need to wash their hair every day or every other day with a somewhat clarifying shampoo so as to maintain a hairstyle that looks clean and neat.
On the flip side, curly hairs grow from angled, elliptical hair follicles, which naturally produce oil at a slower rate. This means the hair looks clean and fresh for days or even weeks after shampooing, so people with curly hair rarely feel the need to wash their hair daily or use strong clarifying shampoo. Unfortunately, this also means that many people with naturally curly hair tend to experience more issues with dry scalp and hair that is brittle, frizzy, or lacks shine. There are hundreds of styling products on the market today designed to help with these issues. Curly hair is usually styled with some sort of conditioning or moisturizing product to make it smoother, a product like a mousse or gel to lock down the cuticle and prevent frizziness and tangling, or an oil, sheen, or silicone-based product to protect it and make it shiny.
Lice survive better on squeaky clean hair with no products because it’s easier for them to climb into and reproduce on, so if a louse gets on someone who only washes their hair infrequently and who lets their hair’s natural oils or products build upon their hair, it’s less likely to be able to reproduce on their hair to start an infestation. This is also where the myth that people of African descent with tight, kinky curls don’t get head lice comes from. LiceDoctors has treated many African American and biracial families afflicted with head lice, and we can confidently say that it has more to do with these hair habits--product usage, hair washing frequency, whether the shampoo used is gentle or clarifying, and use of conditioner - than the hair type someone is born with.
How to Get Lice Eggs Out of Curly Hair?
There are no shortcuts when it comes to nit-picking. When moms ask us how to get rid of lice in thick curly hair, some of the best advice we can give is don’t give up! Section the hair, detangle it and get every nit off of every strand. We know it is a chore, and sometimes it feels overwhelming. How did it get so bad so quickly, when the itching just started?! Sadly, by the time the itching starts, the lice have been reproducing and multiplying in the hair for weeks, and if you aren’t checking your kids regularly because you were led to believe that curly hair is lice-resistant, then you can often find yourself suddenly facing hundreds of lice eggs out of the blue.
That is exactly why LiceDoctors exists! When you reach the end of your patience and you’re not even halfway through picking all the nits, why not take a break and give us a call? We can send a friendly, competent technician directly to your home to swiftly and safely eliminate the lice from your curly-haired kiddos. You can rest assured that your LiceDoctors lice removal professionals know how to get lice out of curly hair.
Lice Treatment for Thick Curly Hair
For someone with very curly hair lice treatment can seem even more daunting. The trick to treating lice in thick curly hair is making the hair easier to comb.
The main way nits are treated is removal with a nit comb. The Terminator nit comb is the best, but because the tines are so close together, they will easily tangle in loose, dry curls. It will help to make tiny sections and apply oils while picking.
Blow drying helps with lice and curly hair in two ways. First, the moderate heat will kill some of the lice. Second, if you blow-dry against a round or paddle brush, the hair will dry straighter, which will make combing easier.
Chemicals that kill lice may dry out or damage curly hair because the hair is more porous than straight hair. Even if you use chemicals, you’ll still have to pick out the nits, so we think chemicals are a waste of time.
Even though it’s easier for lice to take hold of freshly-washed hair and lay their eggs on it, once you have an established case of lice neither curly nor oily hair can protect you; the only completely effective cure is to completely remove it. If you have a case of lice in your family, call LiceDoctors day or night at 800-224-2537 and we will come to take care of it for you.