How to Treat Lice on Curly Hair

Sometimes we have to discuss the not-so friendly problems curly girls may have to deal with from time to time. Not every curly will have to deal with it but if you do, you want to know what to do. I’m talking about head lice.

“Head lice, called pediculus capitis by scientists, are small parasitic insects. They live only in human hair, grasping the shaft and feeding once a day by sucking tiny amounts of blood from the scalp. The female louse, about the size of a sesame seed, lays approximately ten eggs, called nits, a day and glues them to the hair shaft. They hatch in 10 to 14 days, grow for nine to 12 days, then mate and the cycle begins again. Lice can live for three to four weeks.” USA Today

In my experience there is a widespread belief held in the black community that we cannot get lice. While lice do prefer fine, straight hair strands over coarse, curly hair, so it is indeed less likely, lice can nevertheless still affect every person regardless of race or hair type. One reason is the variety of ways lice can spread from sharing hair brushes and accessories to touching other people’s hair.

Unfortunately most popular methods for removing lice are conducive to dealing with straight hair with tools like nit ridding combs. Those combs have very tight, small teeth that can wreak havoc on a curly so the following methods are a better option.

Lice removal


If you feel you must use a lice shampoo and remove the nits with that special comb, then do so while the hair is wet. Wet hair is much easier to comb through. Keep a water bottle handy in order to re-wet the hair as it may dry during this lengthy process.


A blow dryer using direct heat can get rid of nearly 98% of nits and 55% of lice but you should not combine the shampoo method with this one since many of the lice shampoos have flammable ingredients. High heat is not necessary but it needs to be warm.  A bonnet dryer is less effective, so use a hand-held blow dryer.


“Treatment of Head Lice.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2014.
“Head Lice Can Be Prevented with Household Remedies.”  USA Today. GANNETT, n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2014.
DeGrandpre, Zora, and George Krucik, MD. “Home Remedies for Head Lice: What Works?”, 25 Apr. 2013. Web. 18 Mar. 2014.
Sabrina Perkins

Sabrina, founder of and contributor to several online publications, is a freelance writer who engages her audiences on the relevance of natural hair, beauty, and style.

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