While it may seem like a strange question, “Can black people get lice?” is one that we’ve been asked several times and for that reason we thought it would be a good idea to clarify the subject and separate myth from fact. The simple answer to this question is, yes; however, it is a bit more complicated than that. In order to shed some light on this subject, we will go through exactly what lice need to thrive and what conditions are best in order to get you a more in depth understanding of how different races are affected by lice in different proportions.
Do Black People Get Lice?
The first thing you should be aware of is that people of all races and cultures can get lice, though there is a common rumor that those of African descent can’t get lice. This is simply not true, the texture of the hair isn’t as large of a factor as many think, though it does have a slight effect, it is a bizarre justification for this claim. The truth is that Africans and similar races can get head lice, although the rates are a bit lower than the rest of the population, although not drastically. This myth is quite widespread and can cause potential problems because some will cling to it and thus ignore the idea that they may have head lice.
Races, Lice and Connecting the Dots
Lice are very tiny insects that frequently find their home on the scalps of humans and other similar mammals. These insects prefer to live in a dry, warm area so those with dry and warm scalps that are navigable are a much more suitable home for lice than any other area. Hair lice are spread very easily and can be quite difficult to rid, even there are a variety of shampoos and treatments.
The primary reason those of black descent suffer less hair lice is because of the pores and hair follicles of black races, typically the pores and follicles function slightly differently compared to whites, leaving the scalp more wet than those of European or Russian descent, as you can see from the lowered dandruff rates of most black nationalities. Another small reason those of black origins are at less risk for hair lice is because the hair of black nationalities are more tightly coiled, which makes it slightly more difficult for lice to navigate the scalp.
So overall, anyone with more open pores will suffer from lice less because their scalp is a less suitable habitat. However, within every race there are a variety of different phenotypes that can cause more or less oil production and hair follicle differences; for this reason, it’s not at all accurate to say that blacks can’t get lice.
Origins of This Myth
While nobody can certainly know how this myth was formed, many believe that it started around the 1920′s when oiled hair was popular for African Americans and with a large amount of hair grease, it’s very difficult for a lice to choose your scalp as a potential home.
Detection and Treatment
If you fear that you may have hair lice, there are a variety of different ways to detect and treat it. We advise you get a friend or relative to comb your scalp to search for small bugs or eggs. You can separate eggs from dandruff because eggs stick to the hair as opposed to dandruff which will typically slide right off. For treatment, we suggest you purchase a box of high powered anti-lice shampoo and carefully fine-comb your hair until the lice are gone. If this hasn’t solved the problem, we suggest you see a physician to learn about more options.
If anyone asks you, “can black people get lice?” you are now prepared to help reduce this widespread and potentially harmful myth.