Let’s face it. No one wants parasites crawling on their head. But troublesome head lice feed off human blood and can only survive on our scalps, latching onto a nice strand of our hair as their home. Yuck!
But have you ever been curious to know for sure if you’re more or less likely to have an infestation based on your hair type? Here, we’ll discover where your hair type ranks on the “ideal home” scale for head lice.
First off – let’s hear from one of our mums regarding the ‘dos and don’ts’ of hair when it comes to nits and head lice (not that you get much of a choice ?).
“Shea’s hair is quite long and curly. Hubby now wants to go have it cut so he doesn’t get them again but I… love his golden locks.”
Should she cut Shea’s hair to curb the nits? Find out here as we cover blonde hair, long hair, curly hair and more…
1. Can you get nits and head lice in blonde hair?
The bad news is that lice like blonde hair just as much as other hair colours.
The good news is that a lighter hair colour can sometimes at least make it easier to identify the lice.
At a maximum length of 3mm, lice can be hard to spot, and their eggs are very small, only changing from translucent to white once hatched.
For all hair colours, the search for nits and lice is made a whole lot easier by shining a bright light on the scalp so you can spot where they are.
2. Nits and head lice in long versus short hair
Having short hair makes it harder for our little friends to transfer from one head to another.
As they are wingless, they have to walk from head to head, so if you have short hair you need to get very close to an infested head for the transfer to happen.
That’s one of the main reason young kids get lice the most – their lack of personal space etiquette!
As MadeForMums’ favourite GP, Dr Philippa Kay, tells us, head lice can be passed on easier if the hair is longer, because there is more hair which could come into contact with infested hair.
Over on our forum, mum Rhian2-50156 shares her own experiences of having long hair and head lice as a child, saying: “I cannot count how many times I had nits as a child – tens of times!
“I was never allowed to go to school without my ponytail in a plait because as soon as I wore it loose, I would get them!”
3. Are nits and head lice more common in curly hair?
It’s the human blood from our scalps that nits are interested in and having curly hair doesn’t put them off.
Curly hair may make transfer harder, if there is less hair hanging down for lice to use as a “ladder” – or if curly hair has been styled differently so it’s swept up or braided for example.But lice will still make the journey to your head even if you have the curliest of curls.
If you have an infestation in curly hair, it can be more challenging trying to get a fine-toothed nit comb through your luscious locks, too.
Combing through any tangles first and using a thick lotion to help the comb “slip” can help.
4. Nits and head lice in thick versus thin hair
Again, the thickness of your strands won’t stop lice from coming after your scalp with their teeny tiny fangs!
Lice have perfected their technique – over centuries – with just the right physique to hold on to a hair strand. Hanging out on hair is their purpose in life – so thick or thin hair is no obstacle.
5. What about nits and head lice in African-Caribbean hair?
Afro hair is essentially a glorious mane of curls, coils and ringlets. Just like other curly hair, afro hair is not exempt from unwelcome visitors.
There’s a common myth that lice don’t like afro hair. They DO. The reason for less cases of lice in afro hair is that the hair is often plaited away in young children so there’s less hair-to-hair contact.
6. Do nits and head lice like dreadlocks?
Yep – lice like dreads too! Dreadlocks are interlocked strands of hair. And if there are strands of hair, there’s a home for head lice.
One of the challenges of lice in dreadlocks is that you can’t run a nit comb through them and there are more places for the lice to hide there.
If you have lice in your locks, get advice from a professional loctician and explore other eradication methods such as soaking overnight.
Dhara Patel of Lockyer Pharmacist in Deptford, London, explains: “Shampoos get diluted very fast. When you put a lotion in overnight it means there’s longer for it to act.
“Obviously bear in mind if your child is asthmatic, has eczema or a particular skin type.”
7. Will dyeing/highlighting my hair stop nits and head lice?
Alas, hair that’s gone through a colouring process – whether bleach, henna or something else entirely – isn’t exempt either.
As long as there’s the opportunity, lice enjoy colour treated hair too – it’s just different wallpaper for their new home!
So, is any hair safe from nits and head lice?
In a word, no. Pharmacist Dhara offers some final words of advice: “As long as you have hair you may get nits. The myths about whether you’ve got afro hair or silky hair or the colour of your hair is irrelevant.
“Any close contact with lots of school kids can easily cause nits for anyone.”
And don’t our mums know it? As mum thentherewere5 on our forum says: “[Nits] are a pain in the butt.
“Hoping she never gets them again but pretty much guaranteed to happen xx ?”
How to treat nits and head lice if you get them (whatever your hair type)
If you’ve got an infestation it needs to be treated promptly. You can find a range of headlice solutions (from spray, to shampoo to lotion) that are suitable for all the hair types mentioned here.
Lice don’t discriminate. They can make a happy home as long as there’s a strand of hair and access to their daily meals via your scalp.
Tying back and plaiting hair is advised for all hair types – so release your inner hairdresser and learn some new styles!