Lice Vs Locs: Can You Get Rid of the Lice?

professional black woman with dreadlocks

Should You Be Worried?

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.

What Are Locs or DreadLocks?man with long dark brown dreadlocks

Those who have locs (dreadlocks) may dread the thought of having to deal with lice—understandably. Dreadlocks are ropelike strands of hair formed by matting or long-term neglect of hair. Usually, dreadlocks are permanent, and won’t unravel just by manipulation or washing of the hair.

Can you Eliminate Lice and Nits from Dreadlocks?

So, when someone has locs, how can he or she eliminate head lice by utilizing a nit comb? The truth is there is no way to guarantee lice elimination if you have locs. Hand picking nits and bugs is not feasible because the hair is so knotted that you can not get near to the scalp where the bugs and nits reside. Nits (lice eggs) are impenetrable to any product used against them. A female louse lays 6-10 eggs per day. After 8-12 days the eggs will hatch, and 8-12 days after that a new egg cycle will begin. Since you can not be sure that you have gotten all of the nits out your locs, by handpicking,you can not count on putting an end to the case. As the nits multiply, you will get farther behind in your management of the case.

Will Suffocation of the Bugs Work?blonde woman with dreadlocks face covered by cowboy hat

Since, combing the lice and nits (eggs) out of the hair is impossible, you might want to choke those babies out! Can you do that? Unfortunately not; the hair is simply too matted to ensure that any product will seep through the hair to tackle the lice. You can try do this by adding an oil-based solution to the hair, leaving it to sit for several hours (this causes the live bugs to suffocate). Keep in mind that lice can hold their breath for up to several hours. Again, the problem is that there is no guarantee that the solution can reach through the matted hair to get to the lice.

What is the Best Solution to Getting Rid of Lice and Nits if You Have Locs?

The only way you can guarantee total elimination of head lice is to cut off the dreadlocks. We know from experience that we can only hope for the best when we treat the locs with oil. This is not good enough and we always dissuade clients from using us or any professional lice service until they have cut off the locs. We realize that is a dramatic move and that many people are very attached (no pun intended) to their locs but 20 plus years of experience has proven to us that this is the best route to take.


If you are checking out this blog as a precaution to try to prevent lice if you have dreadlocks we recommend that you use a lice repellent spray. LiceDoctor’s Lice Repellent Spray will help to keep the pests away as it has a peppermint scent that repels lice and it puts a protective coating over the hair. Visit for more info.

If you want further information about African American hair and head lice (click here)  or if you would like to make an appointment, we are available to make a house call day or night, just call 800-224-2537 .

man with dreadlocks riding a skateboard