Can Black People Get Lice – A Myth or a Fact?

January 11, 2023

Head lice are one of the smallest insects present on planet earth. They are found in human hair. They infest the head and live on the blood of the infected person.

Head lice can cause problems but they are not termed as life-threatening. In some severe cases, a person needs to get treatment for intense itching.

Head lice are found commonly everywhere and it spreads easily from one person to another especially if they live in the same household. Can black people get lice? That is the question that makes one wonder.

Head lice are very contagious but there are theories that black people are less prone to get head lice than the other races.

This might be because of the coily hair which is a common feature of black people. It might be difficult for lice to grip onto the coily hair. That is why this kind of hair makes black people less susceptible to getting infected by head lice.

Can Black People Get Lice?

The answer to this simple question is Yes! Black people do get lice but they get infected by head lice way less than other people.

One of the scientific reasons for black people getting infected by lice less frequently than other people is that the shape of the claws of the lice makes it difficult for the head lice to grip onto the coily hair of black people.

According to the researchers, the width and the shape of the hair shaft inside a coiled hair are what determine the lesser chances of getting infected by head lice.

The shaft of black people’s hair is usually in an oval cross-section whereas the other people’s shaft is circular which makes it easier for head lice to grip.

The researchers also noticed that apart from the shape of the hair, the hair oils also change the game.

For instance, petroleum jelly does wonders to the hair. It makes them smoother and shinier and less brittle in nature, making it all the harder for head lice to grip. A recent survey showed that black women start using hair products from a young age and tend to be more inclined in hair care as compared to other women.

Head lice are a common phenomenon in Hispanic, Caucasian, and Asian Americans as compared to African American people.

A recent report suggested that less than 0.5% of black school-going children experience head lice as compared to almost 10% of the school-going children belonging to other races.

It is uncommon to find head lice in black people but it does exist. Head lice have tended to adapt to living in coiled hair. Head lice have been abundantly found in many African countries, especially in Rwanda, Ethiopia, Burundi, and Senegal.

Signs of Head Lice in Hair:

Symptoms and signs of head lice in the hair are:

  • A tickling or itching sensation becomes a constant on the head
  • Troubled sleeping, as it has been noted that the head lice are the most active at night time or in darkness
  • Presence of small insects which are gray or black and almost 2 to 3 millimeters in size and have six legs
  • Having a feeling of some kind of movement in the hair which can be crawling or moving but not flying or hopping.
  • Sores and pain occur in the head because of vigorous scratching that might lead to an infection.
  • Eggs or nits can be seen in strands of hair as well. The empty shells of eggs are easily visible on the head as compared to the moving head lice as the eggs are usually white.


This article answers the question of can black people get lice in great detail. Head lice are less common in black people but not non-existent in their heads. The reason for this less attack on black people by head lice is because of the nature of their hair which is coily and it is difficult to grip on the coily hair.

If black people get head lice, then they should get them treated immediately. The treatment for the removal of head lice is the same for other people as well as black people. 

Head lice spread easily among people living in the same household or students studying in a school or college. 

Head lice cannot survive outside a human head. It lives by sucking the blood of human beings therefore to avoid a high level of infection it is advised to eradicate head lice in the very beginning when the first crawling sensation is witnessed on the head.

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