“Can black people get lice?” I know what you are thinking. “Absolutely not!” “Why is this even a topic?” Yes, I know I caught you by surprise; however, this is a relevant health issue. With school back in session, and children back with their friends, participating in sports and sharing locker rooms, I thought, yelp! No better time like the present to discuss it.
What exactly are lice? Lice (louse in singular) are wingless parasites that are about two to three millimeters in length. You probably heard of them as being called “nits”, which is half correct. Nits are the eggs that the lice lay, which would take about a week to hatch, and in turn, become lice. Lice creep and crawl around the head and the neck. Once they find a spot, they cling to the hair in order to get to their main food supply – human blood. These creepy crawlers feed so much that this could lead to possible sores and scabs on the scalp.
There is an odd school of thought out there which says that black people can’t get lice, as I mentioned before. Well, this is not entirely true. Yes, it is rare for black people to have cases of lice, but lice have no prejudice when it comes to what scalp they want to feed on. It is a fact that anyone with straight or loosely curly hair has a higher chance of getting lice, than those with coily and kinky* hair. Remember when your mother was greasing your scalp with Blue Magic, or Softee Grease every other day?
Using products which are oily and greasy will cause your hair to be a difficult terrain to grasp onto the hair, let alone be able to lay eggs on your scalp. What about the many plaits little girls had installed during the weekend, which lasted for the week? Those protective styles protected the child’s scalp and tresses from contracting lice better than the little girls who had their hair out, swinging and swaying throughout the day. Lice definitely flock to the straight and looser curls, hence the reason people think that “black people” cannot contract lice.
Now, fast forward to the present time when we have more diverse hairstyles. We might choose to straighten our children’s hair from time to time, which can make them more susceptible to lice. Nowadays, our products are petroleum and mineral oil* free in comparison to years ago. We also wash our hair more often, and as weird as this sounds, lice are attracted clean hair. I am not saying that black hair care today makes it easier for black people to contract lice, but make an observation of what you use in your hair now, versus what was used before.
With that said, it helps to get a little educated on how we can reduce our chances of contracting lice. Here are the symptoms of a possible lice infection, detection and treatment process, if lice are contracted: