“We do KNOT get lice!” Is what I exclaimed proudly and wrongly, one day when my best friend called me. Earlier, her daughter’s school phoned her and told her that her daughter had lice. We joked and laughed at the thought of them thinking that Black hair can get lice. Words like, “Exactly” “Crazy,” and “Wrong” were words we bantered during our conversation, as we spoke about how ridiculous it was to even think…that a Black child could get lice!
Both of her daughters at the time had their hair styled with medium to large box braids. Thus, in order to confirm or deny the presence of lice she had to remove all the braids and sift through the hair braid-by-braid and strand-by-strand. It was not until she got to the front of the head, that my best friend found the tiny miniature culprits moving in her child’s hair. #Aghast #Shockingly #Stunned…Needless to say our sentiment was ever so wrong, as we found out that Black hair can get lice.
The Lice Myth & Black Hair
“Black’s do KNOT get lice!” Has not only been a myth, it has been a mantra and a staple in the Black community for as long as I can remember. I can recall in first grade when we had a lice check at school…and my first grade teacher Ms. Johnson separated all the Black students and put them to the side with the words, “You do not need to get check, you don’t have lice.” While I watched my classmates, who were not Black proceed to the lice checkpoint.
I experienced utter and complete shock after my best friend confirmed lice was living in both of her daughter’s hair. My lifelong belief in the myth had been debunked. For years, Black hair has been touted as being resistant to lice, because of the hair texture. Our hair texture does make it harder for us to get lice versus straighter hair, yet what really helps is the oil and sheens we use in our hair. Although oil and sheen is not always a lice repellent!
What is lice you ask?
For those of you who are wondering what lice is, let me explain: Lice are tiny sesame like six-legged bugs that affix to the scalp or neck and feed off human blood! *YUCK* These itty bitty creatures lay eggs called, nits, and stick themselves like glue onto the hair, close to the scalp, which makes them very hard to see. Lice is an issue that mostly affects young children who attend day-care, preschool or elementary school. Traditionally, lice spreads from direct to direct head contact between people.
Lice Preventative Tips
- Do use hair creams, oils or moisturizers…if possible! These items can be a deterrent to lice getting into the hair.
- Do KNOT share personal products with others. Things like towels, combs, brushes or helmets can contain lice and be easily transferred.
- Do KNOT ignore symptoms of constant head scratching and complaints of head tingling. Check your child’s head periodically to make certain lice is not present.
Lice Treatment Tips
- Do use essential oils like tea tree oil or olive oil, or even butter on the head, after finding a lice infestation. Applying a generous amount of oil and using a shower cap overnight can help kill lice.
- Do make sure to wash and sanitize everything that could possibly have lice. Bed sheets, carpet, towels, combs and brushes are all possible hiding places for lice, always wash and disinfect them. Make make sure to vacuum all sofas and beds to help eliminate lice, as these places serves as great hiding spots for lice.
- Do be proactive and check the heads of all people living in the house. It is important to let the school and all places the child frequents, know about the lice outbreak, as others may need to be treated.
- DO KNOT use any flammable oils like kerosene or flea treatments on your child’s head. These products can be extremely harmful.
- Do use shampoos and hair treatments that specialize in treating and removing lice.
- Do a search for lice clinics in your area.