Can Black People Get Lice


Can black people get lice? This might seem like a strange question to be asking, but I’m here to tell you, you are not the first nor the last person to be asking it. And, in some way, it seems like an entirely reasonable to ask this since there is a difference in the structure of the skin and hair between white and black people.

And if there is even a remote possibility to avoid those nasty, annoying itchiness, I don’t blame you for wanting to find it out.


First thing’s first, let’s talk about lice.

What Are They And How Do You Get Them?

Lice are parasites that can inhabit several areas around our body. They are parasites, meaning they need a host (in this case us) to survive. And the only way for them to survive is to suck the nutrient rich blood from our scalp.

It sounds scarier than it is but according to the Center For Disease Control, 6 to 12 million people get lice each year!

Based on their location, we can divide them into the following categories:

  • Body lice
  • Head liceand
  • Pubic lice

There is a common myth (especially amongst children) that dirty hair and poor personal hygiene causes lice. This is not true. However, poor personal hygiene is what leads to the lice outbreak; since lice are transferred from person to person through personal physical contact.

In addition to personal touch, lice can be spread by using the same comb, brush, headgear or sharing a pool with an “infected” individual.

Keep in mind that this parasite will not abandon its host without a fight, they are equipped with six claws designed to grab hold of its prey and don’t let go; they can even survive 8 hours under water (Source:Healthline)!

Appearance, Symptoms And Life Span

Unfortunately, the biggest problem with lice is that we can’t see them. The only thing we can see are the eggs. And the perfect time to strike is when they lay their eggs because you can quickly sweep most of them using a comb.

You can also get rid of the eggs by just cutting your hair, but make sure you get rid of the hair since lice can live on it for another day or two. So you are in the risk of contaminating yourself.

As for the symptoms, they can vary in severity:

  • Tickling
  • Itching – Itching is usually an allergic reaction to the bites
  • Sores – sores we cause by scratching and
  • Infection – as a result of intense scratching and irritation

And if you don’t do something about it, you will be a force to endure these symptoms for a very long time since lice can live (as long as they have food) up to 30 days! Not only that, a female can lay up to 6 eggs per day.

The Difference In The Skin Between White And Black People

We don’t mean to sound racist, but there are, indeed, differences between the skin of white and black people (aside from the obvious ones – skin color).

Here are some of the main differences:

  • The electrical resistance is higher with dark skin
  • The epidermis of black people contain less glutathione (powerful antioxidant capable of preventing damage to individual cellular components – Wikipedia)
  • Black people have larger melanosomes (pigment granules responsible for tissue color, storage, production and pigment transport – Journal Of Cell Science)
  • Lower PH is normal for black skin
  • Higher concentration of moisture is normal for black skin.

The Differences In Hair

We’ve already covered the differences in the skin, but not it’s time to talk a bit more about hair. There are also people who think black people can’t get lice because of the differences in the structure of their hair. But, is this true?

OK, the truth is black people can get lice, but they rarely do. There are many reasons for this; one is the presence of oil in the hair itself. We already said earlier that black skin contains a higher concentration of moisture, and their hair also contains more oil.

For this reason, lice can’t stay in such environment long and also have problems laying their eggs. The studies showed that white people are three times more likely to get lice when compared to the black population. Though these were scientific studies, they are not always conclusive and should not be taken for granted.

But the god thing about these studies is that they can rule out some common myths that have been circling. One of this myth is the difference in the shape of the hair allowing lice to attach more easily.

That being said, there are some factors which affect the appearance and the frequency of lice:

  • Location – Extensive research showed that lice are much more common in people in Africa when compared to those in Europe or the United States. A major flaw of this research is the existence of many other factors which can contribute to this lice outbreak, aside from the location itself
  • Hair length – this is where most researchers agree actually. They say that shorter hair is much more suitable for the development of lice. This bit of information is especially relevant when we know that younger African Americans tend to have shorter hair in the (early) childhood. So now the question is should you let your child grow longer hair just to reduce the possibility of getting lice? We’ll let you be the judge of that


The answer is they most certainly can! Despite these differences in skin and hair we’ve covered above, the underlying structure is the same and lice love it. All they need is a steady flow of blood and a good place to hide.

Can you prevent them from affecting you or your child? – You most certainly can! Make sure you take good care of your hygiene, check your hair once in a while (especially if you start experiencing itching or tingling) and try not to worry much.

How To Get Rid Of Lice?

What we’ve learned is that lice need a human host to survive. The only problem is, they spread quickly from one person to the next. This is why we need to act fast (as soon as we notice these tiny parasites).

And if you do get them, this is what you do:

  1. Avoid contact with people who do have lice – lice outbreak usually occurs in kindergarten so you should consider letting your child skip a few days.
  2. Shampoo – whether or not you decide to visit your doctor, you should get yourself a medicated shampoo designed to kill lice and its eggs. There are a number of these shampoos available on the market, so you are free to choose whichever you like.
  3. Vacuuming and washing – you should vacuum your furniture and carpets and wash clothing and bedding in hot water to kill the lice. You can also dry heat to make sure you killed them all!

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