Although factors such as hair texture may make African-Americans less likely than Caucasians to get head lice, they are not immune to becoming infested.
This week we had a 9 year old African-American girl with massive amounts of hair being treated for lice. The girl had it for at least 2 months, and her mom was surprised that she had lice. It took a lot of The Nit Nanny Mint® Detangler Spray and a whole lot of brushing and combing, but we got the job done, and the girl was very sweet and patient. One more lice myth debunked.
There are a number of possible explanations for the low infestation rate among African-Americans. One factor is the difference in hair characteristics between Caucasian and African American children. Head lice have problems latching on to curly and kinky hair. In addition, African American hair is more elliptical than Caucasian children's hair and head lice find it difficult to hold onto the elliptical hair. In Africa, where the percentage of children with head lice is higher, lice have adapted their claws to better grasp elliptical hair. Another explanation is that African Americans are more likely to use Vaseline, pomades, and hair gels. These products make the hair less hospitable to head lice.
So yes, it is a lot less likely for African-American children to get lice, but it does happen as we found out first hand. Anytime there is a head lice outbreak at a school or other social setting anyone who has been in close contact with the affected individual, no matter what their race, should carefully check the hair and scalp with a metal lice comb, to make sure none of the little critters have set up camp.
Irina Aleynikova, Lice Technician