Can Black People Get Lice

do black people get lice

As a parent of a child or a person with Afro Caribbean hair type, it is only normal for you ask the question, “ Can black people get lice ?”.

The answer is simple. Yes they can, but there are many factors that you should understand before you go worrying yourself

The first thing you should do if you suspect that you, someone you know or your child has headlice, would be to sit them down and inspect their head thoroughly, especially if they constantly have an itchy scalp.
Itchy scalp is a sure sign of infestation.

By reading this and following some of the remedies we point out on other pages, will give you all the info you require to deal with any outbreak.

What are Head Lice

can black people get liceHead lice are parasites commonly known as Nits, But really Nits are the eggs of the head lice.

We use the common word Nits because you cant have one with out the other.

Large headlice are around 2-3 mm in length.


The lice  festate around the head and neck, they attach their eggs to the bottom of the hair strands.

The Latin name for these head lice is “Pediculus humanus capitis” and their main diet consist of your human blood.

Head lice are not known to carry any disease, or have any affect on humans other than creating irritation, which in turn can lead to sores and scabs.

As a rule they prefer straight or loose curly hair, which is more susceptible to the tiny little mites, we know as Lice or NITS.

Hair Structure

It is thought that one of the reasons black people are less prone to head lice, is the structure of Afro Caribbean hair over naturally straight hair.

Afro textured hair has a flatter cross section making it more spring like and prone to more breakage.

But in general hair is just hair  and hair is created from a protein known as Keratin.

In years past, apparently it was not so common for black people get nits as it was for a person with non afro caribbean hair.

This mostly stemmed from the types of products black people were using on their hair and the types of hair styles.

Big afro hairBack in the day a lot black people were using oils and grease to care for their precious bonnet and In one respect this was a great factor in keeping head lice out.

This was part of the reason people asked “ can black people get lice ” and “ do black people get lice ”.

Lice love to crawl through hair and cling to it, but due to the amount of oils people were applying to their curly locks, turned out to be a great deterrent as it was thought the the oils were suffocating the lice or making the terrain less easy to navigate.

Combined with the tight curls of a black persons hair, it seemed that the head lice had little interest in afro type hair due to the amount of effort required to move amongst the tight curls.

Move forward a few years and we find that hair styles have changed, products have changed and the way we care for our hair has changed dramatically.

More and more people are straightening their hair, along with using modern chemicals to care for it.

There are still arguments that straightening and the use of chemicals have been the downfall that has led to lice free afro days.
But some also believe that using hot irons kills off the lice.

Unfortunately, lice like to travel from host to host via pillows, bed sheets and all sorts of other methods.

Though a lot of people think that Head louse can jump from host to host.
This is not true. Head louse are fast little little critters that want to do nothing more than feed sleep and breed.

Can Black People Get Lice

So even if you don’t straighten or use modern chemicals, the chances are that someone in your social group or your child’s school does.

As I stated above, Lice have always been there but have not been that prevalent.

If you are a family with different types of hairstyles or live in a neighborhood that is predominantly black then it becomes the case that the lice are starved of choice and therefore will probably adapt.

It may even be the case that you or a child will get lice for a shorter period of time compared to someone with western straight hair.

There is no definitive studies that I have come across yet in my studies as to what type of hair lice prefer, but it is commonly thought that the natural coarse hair of black people is difficult terrain for head lice.

A little story

kids with nitsI had a friend with two small children that went to day school whilst she worked.
One day the school sent out a letter to all parents, stating the there was a case of head lice at the school and that parents should inspect their children.

My friend phoned a local doctor and asked can black people get lice ?

The Dr’s answer was no, and that he had not seen a case of head lice on a black person in all his years.

My friend sent her children back to school untreated and non the wiser.

This was back in the 1980’s when kids had big afros or heavily oiled hair and if you have had a big afro or tried to inspect  the afro hair of a small child, you will understand how difficult this can be.

3 weeks passed when she noticed her children scratching like crazy and complaining about the itching.
Unlike today where we are inundated with products to cure lice, cures and remedies were not so widely distributed.

She decided she would cut the hair of her children and upon doing this, she found their poor little heads were infested.

She went to the school the next day to meet some of the parents and inform them of the head lice situation.

Within one week every black child in that school had short or plaited hair.