Can Black People Get Lice?
A common question is “can black people get lice in their hair?”. Many people in Black communities believe that Black people can’t get head lice. But when your child comes home from school with a note that there’s been a case … you might start to wonder anyway.
Do Black people get lice?
Can black people have lice? Yes. Despite popular rumors, black people can get head lice.
Head lice are parasitic insects that feed on human blood from the scalp. They are not picky about the color of the scalp and normal hair oils and products commonly used on Black hair aren’t enough to prevent or kill them.
Where does this myth come from?
Even though Black people can get head lice, it’s very uncommon. One study found that about 10% of Caucasian school children will experience a case of head lice, compared to only 0.3% of Black school children.
Most people have never heard of a Black person with a case of head lice, so the myth is easily spread.
Why is it rare for Black people to get head lice?
Most researchers believe that the shape of the hair follicle is what makes Black hair resistant to the strains of head lice common in the West. The cross section of most Caucasian hair is a circle, whereas the cross section of Black hair is more oval.
Lice have evolved with humans for millions of years. Scientists have identified three clades (families) of lice, and the species of head lice now found in the West are descended from clade B. This clade can be traced through Europe, North America, and Australia, so it’s no wonder that they’ve evolved perfectly to cling to the round hair follicles of their only hosts.
Interestingly, evidence of a different species of head (and body) lice has been discovered on the African continent. These lice thrive in more oval-shaped Black hair, and biologists have determined that these lice descended from clade A—having evolved along with their hosts on the African continent.
Do normal head lice treatments work on Black hair?
If you do need to treat a case of head lice in Black hair, the good news is that the same treatments that work in Caucasian hair will also work in Black hair.
The bad news is that most conventional head lice treatments don’t actually work in any hair anymore. Head lice continue to evolve with humans, and as humans have developed medications like permethrin and pyrethrin—the active ingredients in most over-the-counter lice treatments—head lice have developed a resistance to them.
We call these resistant strains “super lice,” and they make up 98% of head lice cases in the U.S.
Back to the good news: Many natural solutions are effective against normal lice and super lice. They’re also safer for you and your family.
The Novokid head lice treatment system harnesses the most effective, all-natural treatments for head lice and nits, in a system that is especially beneficial for Black hair. Most lice shampoos, creams, and oils work with wet hair, but our system converts the treatment to a vapor that is used on dry hair—in easy, 10-minute treatments.
Learn more about the Novokid dry vapor head lice treatment →