Do Black People Get Lice?

Head lice are annoying problems that can lead to serious itching and embarrassment for school-aged children, as well as adults. Head lice are tiny insects. They don't have wings, so they need to be passed from one person to another by direct contact. They eat human blood and need to be warm to survive.

Interestingly enough, the question of "Do black people get lice?" has come up often in Europe and America, where the Caucasian has been the majority of the population. That's because only 0.3% of African American children get head lice, as compared to a much higher 10.4% of Caucasian children. Why does this happen?

Do Black People Get Lice?

The short answer to that question is yes, they do. However, the question of "do black people get lice" is not out of left field because black people tend to be much less likely to have head lice in Europe and America. Researchers have found some reasons why that might be, but no one really has a definitive reasons why black people tend to get head lice less often than those of lighter skin.

Why Do Black People Get Lice Much Less Than White People?

Numerous studies have been done to figure out why black people don't get head lice as often as white people do. The most common reason boils down to the structure of their hair. Studies have shown that those blacks in Canada, the UK and North America tend to have a hair structure that is rather similar among those of the black race, but is quite different from that of whites. Lice tend to be drawn to the hair of Caucasian people more than that of African American people.

Why is this? The hair of those who are Caucasian or of Caucasian decent has a rounded profile. Those of African American descent tend to have an oval profile. This might not seem like much of a big deal, but it is for lice– the claws of head lice are designed to fit around the rounded shape of certain hair, while oval-shaped hair can keep them from crawling effectively. When the lice can't move as they want to, they either die off quickly or begin looking for another host with more "hospitable" hair for the environment they need.

One of the other reasons why it is so rare among the black population is the treatment style. Young black boys might have their heads shaved at the first sign of head lice, which means that they immediately remedy the problem. For young black girls, a good treatment is having their hair straightened, which uses a great deal of heat, which immediately kills the lice, and there you have the problem solved!

How to Prevent Lice in Black People

Unfortunately, the answer to "do black people get lice" varies when you look at other countries. That's because those who are native to Africa, Nigeria and Brazil, as well as a few other countries, are dealing with head lice that has learned to adapt to the particular shape of hair. These lice are very difficult to wash or comb out, and can wreck havoc on an entire family or school system once they are in place.

Fortunately, there are some simple everyday products that can fight away the lice before they have a chance to become established. Oil-based products, such as those containing coconut and tea tree, are a great option. The use of pomades or waxes in the hair tends to suffocate lice very quickly, and it prevents new lice from getting a good grip on the hair. If these products are used on a day-to-day basis, the chance of getting head lice will be less dramatically.

Finally, remember education about head lice is the key to success. All families, regardless of the color of their skin, should know the basics about head lice and how the problem is transmitted from one person to another. It is important to remember prevention measures to keep from spreading the problem, such as no sharing of combs or personal items that might touch the head. When a lice outbreak does occur in a school or community, it is vitally important to check the heads of those in the family every day, and make sure to get prompt treatment if you do see the little critters invading your hair. 

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