Can black people get lice?
All races and economic backgrounds can and do suffer from head lice. Head lice aka Pediculus humanus capitis (head louse) may have preferences for certain hair strand shapes that align with their claw shape (oval vs. round strands). Again, can black people get lice? Yup, the head louse has a clear mission – eat, have kids and survive by feeding on your human blood. Gross, I know.
What does this mean for you if you are black or any other race? This means that although there is a definite and noticeable difference in the rate of lice infestation for Blacks versus Whites, all parents should know what to look for and what to do in the case of exposure.
Head lice is a common problem that mostly affects school-aged children as well as their families. Lice can attach to anyone and, to this vermin, it doesn’t really matter if your hair is dirty or clean. It doesn’t matter if you have 3b or 4a hair. Lice does not discriminate.
Although head lice can be a real nuisance, you don’t have to worry about it causing serious illnesses. It does not carry life-threatening diseases. It can be treated at home. Services like LiceDoctors will come to your home and treat the patient.
What is Head Lice? Can Black People Get Lice?
Head lice are wingless and tiny parasites. They live in the hair of a person and feed off the blood from the scalp. A single adult is called a louse and is about the size of a sesame seed. The louse’s egg known as nits is a small and oval-shaped egg of head lice.
Adult head lice are 2.1–3.3 mm in length. Head lice infest the head and neck and attach their eggs to the base of the hair shaft. These lice are known to lay their eggs closest to your scalp. Their eggs typically hatch within one week. Nits are often combed out the hair section by section with the use of fine-tooth nit comb.
Lice are very contagious and can easily and quickly spread from one person to another. This is most especially found in a group setting such as:
- Childcare centers
- Sports activities
- Slumber parties
The very first clue that your child has head lice is scratching the scalp more frequently. Lice bites leads to itching and scratching. This is due to a reaction to the saliva of lice. Keep in mind, itching may not start immediately. It will depend on how sensitive your child’s skin is to the lice.
In some cases, it can take weeks for children with lice to start scratching. They may complain of things moving around on or tickling their neck and head.
The Head Lice Life Cycle
These parasites can live for 28 days. They usually develop in three phases – the egg, which is also called the nit, nymph and the adult louse. Lets learn more about each one.
Eggs hatch in 6-9 days and are commonly found within 4 to 6mm of the scalp. Eggs or nits don’t survive if positioned farther away.
This looks like an adult head louse and is smaller in size; about the size of a pinhead. The Nymph becomes an adult in 7 days upon hatching.
The adult louse can quickly multiply and lay about 10 eggs per day. This only takes about 12-14 days for newly-hatched eggs to reach adulthood. The cycle can repeat itself every three weeks if the lice are left untreated.
Symptoms of Head Lice
The most common head lice symptom is itching and scratching. It happens on affected areas where head lice are present. However, it might take about 4-6 weeks after the lice get into the scalp before it starts to itch. The majority of itching takes place behind the ears or at the back part of the neck. Itching is normally due to lice bites. Itching caused by head lice can also last for several weeks even if lice are gone.
How Lice Spread
According to the CDC, “Lice infestations (pediculosis and pthiriasis) are spread most commonly by close person-to-person contact. Dogs, cats, and other pets do not play a role in the transmission of human lice. Lice move by crawling; they cannot hop or fly.”
Both over-the-counter and prescription medications are available for treatment of lice infestations.
There is a small chance that head lice can spread by sharing items, but individuals especially children are encouraged not to share the following:
- Hair Bands Or Hair Ties
Avoid sharing these items with anyone else whether they have lice or not. This is one good way of reducing the risks of repeated lice outbreaks and preventing children from getting head lice.
Where Does Lice Come From?
Head lice, Pediculus humanus capitis are ultimately contagious yet harmless parasites. Unlike the body lice, head lice do not carry disease. These creatures must feed off another living body in order to thrive. Their primary food source is human blood that comes from the scalp.
Head lice are not airborne and cannot live in water that is a long way from their host. So, they must cling to your hair strands for dear life when you take a shower or bath.
But, where do lice come from? And, can black people get lice from anywhere?
When your children come back from school with head lice, the very first question that you will as is “where do these lice come from?” Or, “why did these lice infect my family?” Next, you wonder who among your child’s friends have head lice. If these parasites only live on humans, where do they come from originally? Lice don’t come from animals and are only transmitted between human.
Head lice are usually categorized to a clade depending on their genetic make-up. A clade pertains to a group of organisms, which are not genetically identical to each other. However, they do share a common ancestor.
Human head lice clade named A, B and C are known to have different geographic distributions and varied genetic characteristics. According to the Journal of Parasitology, head lice categorized as clade B originated from North America. However, it migrated farther and reached Europe and Australia.
Theory Of Lice beginnings
Head lice are believed to have separated from body lice thousands of years ago. Discoveries of genetic differences between body and head lice began when men and women started wearing clothing. And while head lice remain in the scalp, body lice mutated. It mutated to a parasite with claws that grab onto the smoother clothing fibers instead of needle-thin hair shafts.
How to Get Rid Of Head Lice
Though head lice can be annoying, the right head lice treatment can effectively eradicate head lice infestation painlessly and quickly. Basically, as humans exist, head lice will never become extinct. Nevertheless, one can prevent it.
These ways begin with not sharing personal items. Provide every family member with their own towels, hairbrushes, beddings and combs to prevent the spread of lice. This is in case a family member has been exposed or infected.
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If you have children or if anyone in the family is affected and threatened by serious head lice infestation, you can also consider the following head lice treatments:
If you are in search for ways on how to kill lice, you can resort to medications. These head lice treatments are readily available over the counter or with doctors’ prescriptions. These medications can also include head lice shampoo, lotion, creams and more.
Over the counter head lice treatments with pesticides might contain the following ingredients:
- Piperonyl Butoxide with Pyrethrins: You can make use of this head lice treatment in children ages 2 years old and above. This is made of chrysanthemum flowers.
- Permethrin: This can be found in lice shampoo and approved for use in children aging 2 months and above.
Over the counter prescriptions and head lice treatments with no pesticides include the following:
- Dimethicone: This is a non-pesticide and silicone-based material that works by coating the lice and disrupting their ability to deal with water. There are studies proving that this is more effective than the products containing pesticides. Do not use more than the suggested amount. If you still see lice eggs or lice in hair after using head lice treatments, then call your doctor. He can suggest more effective and stronger product.
- Lotions: Another effective head lice treatment is a medicated lotion. Lotions can kill lice on all types of hair.
- Benzyl Alcohol (Ulesfia): These lotions can kill active lice on hair and not lice eggs. This is an effective head lice treatment for children age 6 months and above. These are also safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Use these products when your hair is dry for about 10 minutes.
- Ivermectin: This lotion also kills most head lice in hair even those newly hatched lice with a single use. You do not need to comb out the lice eggs nor treat a second time. Children age 6 months and above can make use of this product.
- Malathion: This is a known strong lotion that kills lice eggs. This is approved to use in children ages 6 years old and above. If lice are still seen moving after 7-9 days, you can consider a second treatment. This product is highly flammable, so as much as possible, avoid heat sources like curling irons, stoves, lighters, space heaters, fireplaces, blow dryers and also avoid cigarettes. Using together can start a fire.
How To Kill Lice – Other Options
- Head Lice Shampoo: Head lice are commonly attracted to humans by their smell. If the smell is significantly masked by another with repelling effects on head lice, then it will keep lice away. This is precisely what head lice shampoo can do especially those that are essential oil based. You can make use of coconut oil, lavender oil or tea tree oil for lice. You can get it here.
- Coconut Shampoo to Get Rid of Head Lice: If you have head lice, you can use coconut scented shampoos or conditioners, or you can even add a few drops of coconut oil into your regular shampoo. Coconut oils are known for their antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. They have been used for centuries as lice treatment at home. Aside from killing lice, coconut oil shampoo also has no side effects, so it’s safe and effective to use.
Tea Tree Oil For Lice And Lavender
- Tea Tree Oil for Lice: Does tea tree oil kill lice? You can buy ready-made tea tree oil shampoos or add a few drops of tea tree oil into your regular shampoo to kill lice and lice eggs on hair. The tea tree oil lice contains terpenoids that have antifungal and antiseptic properties and these contribute in killing adult nymphs and lice. Also, some individuals are allergic to tea tree oil, so avoid applying pure oil as this may result in irritation, itching, and blistering. This substance is not really recommended substance for children as well as pregnant and lactating mothers.
- Lavender Oil Shampoo to Get Rid of Head Lice: There are ready-made shampoos or just like the tea tree oil for lice; you can also add few drops of lavender oil into your regular shampoo. Lavender oil also contains terpenoids, however, less than those of tea tree oil. The component terpinen-4 oil has a concentration of 30%-50% in tea tree oil, but lavender oil has only 4%.
Lavender oil shampoo can work well in preventing and killing head lice in as safe and effective manner as the tea tree oil for lice. This head lice shampoo is non-toxic, so it does not trigger infection. Since this has no side effects, it’s safer to use.
These are just a few of the many head lice treatments that you can try. You can search online, and you can find lots of relevant information about head lice treatments, proper lice removal, and you can even see lice pictures that give you clearer insights about the nature of these parasites and the best ways to get rid of them.
How to Get Rid Of Head Lice Naturally
Aside from medications, over the counter prescriptions and lice treatments available, you can get rid of head lice through effective home remedies. Performing natural lice treatment at home can help a lot in killing lice and even lice eggs in your hair.
So, for those who do not prefer using medications for treating head lice infestation, use home and lifestyle remedies.
Combing wet hair using a fine-toothed comb can remove head lice and nits. Although some don’t like this idea, others attest to the effectiveness of this natural method of lice removal.
The hair must be wet and you must add something that will lubricate the hair such as hair conditioners. You then need to comb your hair starting from scalp up to the end of hair twice during one session. This process must be repeated at least every 3-4 hours for 4 to 6 weeks until lice are entirely eliminated.
Clinical studies suggest that some known natural plant oils can help get rid of lice and lice eggs. These include:
- Tea tree oil
- Lavender oil
- Coconut oil
- Clove oil
- Neem oil
- Aniseed oil
- Eucalyptus oil
- Red thyme oil
- Cinnamon leaf oil
- Eucalyptus oil
Holistic experts suggest adding some of the listed essential oils into regular shampoo for a more effective and natural head lice removal. A combination of essential oils are known to suffocate and numb head lice making it easier to comb them out.
There are household products that can be used in treating head lice infestations. These are considered natural home remedies because they deprive lice of incubating their lice eggs. Apply the product and cover your hair with a clean shower cap. For better results, you can leave it in overnight. Household products that help in lice removal are:
- Olive oil
- Petroleum jelly
Of all these products petroleum jelly is the most effective in killing head lice.
The FDA-cleared AirAllé, a device that kills lice and eggs through dehydration. The machine requires special training and is available in professional head lice treatment facilities. The machine utilizes air, which is cooler than the majority of hair dryers at a much higher flow rate to kill lice effectively. Regular hair dryers shouldn’t be used to achieve results as this is extremely hot and can burn your scalp.
This is another lice removal treatment that suffocates the lice. Some natural home remedies to get rid of lice fall into this category. Various types of natural oils, margarine, butter, and mayonnaise can be used in this kind of treatment.
Most treatments require multiple combing sessions. In addition, lice combs can be used in conjunction with other lice treatments. As a service, this lice removal option can be costly, but if done at home, this would only require one time lice comb purchase.
Additional Helpful Tips to Get Rid of Head Lice
Aside from the head lice treatments mentioned above, there are still more additional tips that can help you get rid of head lice fast. These tips are highlighted below:
Seek for Professional Help
Some parents resort to home remedies or solutions for head lice like tea tree oil for head lice, mayonnaise, vinegar, neem oil, saline sprays and more. These head lice treatments are time-consuming and messy and some are not fully supported by scientific evidence.
If you have tried all the possible treatments but to no avail, consider seeking professional help. As parents, this is a sure and effective way to get rid of lice fast. Also, it ensure that your child will not suffer head lice infestation for long.
It is also possible that you are dealing with head lice, which are resistant to active ingredients in your treatment products. It would be best to consult your doctor or dermatologist for proper head lice treatment prescription, if the over the counter is not working.
Avoid Being Obsessed Over Nits
As a rule of thumb, if there are no live parasites seen crawling after three weeks upon treatment. Doctors say that it is safe to assume that the person infested with head lice is clear. If the nits were alive, they would have hatched at this point.
Nits, as well as their shells, may stay in the hair for quite a while, however, will no longer be viable. Prescriptions and head lice treatments mainly target head lice. If products like these are used, there will be no combing needed unless you cannot wait to eliminate the dead shells.
Keep an Eye on Frequent Head Scratching
Unfortunately, there’s really no guarantee that your child will not get head lice again. The best advice is to remain alert of head scratching. Itching can be an allergic reaction to certain chemicals in the head lices saliva.
Not all children experience head itching right away. If they had lice before, these kids are more likely to begin itching sooner. Catching onto this behavior early on can help treat and stop head lice sooner rather than later.
Prepare for an Appointment
If head lice keeps on reoccurring, see your family pediatrician oas possible. They can see if your child has an active head lice infestation through the proper identification of live nymphs. The doctor can examine the child’s hair under a microscope. This is an effective way to confirm a head lice infestation diagnosis.
Back to our original question – can black people get lice? Yes, and nowadays lice infestations are common in children, adults and all races.
This guide carries with it relevant and helpful information about head lice infestation, symptoms and recommended ways on how to get rid of lice either through medicines or natural remedies.