Head lice are a nightmare, especially for parents with school-aged kids. But what about when we get older and the unfortunate amongst us lose our hair? Can bald people get lice?
Here’s everything you need to know about baldness and head lice:
Can bald people get lice?
In theory, lice can make their way onto a bald person’s head, but they don’t stay long. Head lice need to attach their eggs to hair and they need a warm environment. Because they don’t get either on a bald head, they don’t stick around.
Even when lice do land on a bald person’s head, they soon get knocked off. Head lice bite the scalp to feed on human blood, then cling to hair for dear life when the person starts to scratch.
On the rare occasion they bite a bald person, there’s no hair to grab. The best case scenario is they land on the person’s shoulder, but it’s more likely to be a long drop to the floor.
However, it’s unlikely they’d hang around long enough to look for a meal anyway. When they find themselves on a bald person’s scalp, it’s a cold, barren wasteland.
Ordinarily, the hair on our heads keeps the temperature on a human scalp at a constant 98.6 degrees. This is the perfect temperature for head lice, who will happily live, eat and breed amongst the warm shelter of a thick head of human hair.
However, this isn’t the case with a bald head. With no hair to trap the heat, they’re cold and exposed, so they find a hairy head to jump to as soon as they can.
So the answer is that technically, bald people can ‘get’ lice, but they won’t stay for long enough to lay eggs.
This begs the question – if you have lice, is becoming bald by choice a good cure?
Does shaving your head get rid of lice?
Shaving your hair is an effective way of getting rid of head lice, as they need hair to cling to and attach their eggs. However, you’ll need to ensure you go short enough, as lice can live amongst hair that’s just 2mm long.
This means that a simple buzz-cut won’t get rid of all your lice and nits (lice eggs). The only way to be sure is to shave your head bald.
The best way to do this is a full wet shave, which ensures there’s no hair left above the surface of the scalp for any remaining lice to cling to.
The eggs will be attached to the hair you’re shaving off, so be sure to give your razor a good wash afterwards (personally I’d change the blade, just for peace of mind).
If I’m bald and wear a wig, can I get head lice?
If you wear a wig, it’s unlikely you’ll get head lice. This is because head lice need warmth from the scalp and access to human blood to survive. With the hairpiece separating them from your scalp, the head lice won’t get either and will die off within a day.
So technically you can get head lice but they won’t stick around and certainly won’t lay eggs and breed.
Can you get lice in your beard?
Head lice can live in beards, and the treatment is the same as for lice living in head hair. Anti-lice medications can be used on the beard the same as they can on the head. Shaving is also a good way to get rid of lice in your beard.
If you’re rocking the upside-down look like these bald celebrities with beards, you’ll have less chance of getting head lice but it’s not impossible.
Can lice make you bald?
Untreated head lice infestations can causes bald patches due to damage to the scalp and hair follicles. The itching sensation from their bites and movement also cause people to scratch, which can also lead to hair loss in patches if it happens for an extended period.
Once the lice are treated and the infestation is gone, hair will grow back. The irritation may stay for a few days but eventually the urge to scratch will stop.
Meanwhile, there should be no more damage to the scalp from the bites once the lice are gone, so hair follicles will repair themselves and hair will grow back.
While it’s technically possible for a bald person to get head lice, they just don’t do well in the cold, desert-like conditions that a bald head offers.
This is just one of many silver linings to baldness. We get a cool shiny head, we don’t have to pay for haircuts, and there are no annoying treatments for us when the kids bring home lice from school.
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