Lice Statistics by Race

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Updated on March 25, 2022

The head lice or pediculosis capitis is a small parasite found on the head, eyebrows, and eyelashes of humans. The prevalence usually involves school-age children transmitted through direct contact to an infected hair. Although it is not considered a public health threat, head lice are irritating and may cause secondary skin infection due to itching and excessive scratching. 

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDS), the U.S. has about 6 million to 12 million head lice infestations every year among 3 to 11 years old. The entire Americas has about 3.6% to 61.4% prevalence rate, Asian has about 0.7% to 59%, European has 0.48% to 22.4%, African has 0% to 58.9%, and Oceania has 13% prevalence rate.

What percentage of the population has had lice?

As many as 6 to 12 million worldwide get head lice every year as per CDC

According to National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), a lice infestation is widespread across the world and it happens to almost everyone regardless of the socioeconomic status of a person, age, gender, or race. Thus, we can conclude that almost 90 to 100 percent of the entire population has had lice once in their lifetime.

What is the average amount of lice on head?

A healthy child infested with lice typically has about 10 to 15 lice 

On average, there are about 10 to 15 lice in an infested healthy child, which varies depending on the hygiene, the size of the household, the climate, geographical environment, health conditions, etc. 

You may not notice any symptoms for up to six weeks

You can stay asymptomatic for several weeks until the itching starts. A newly hatched egg matures to adulthood in a matter of 12 to 14 days and lays eggs for up to 10 eggs per day. They can survive for 30 days in the human scalp and can cause a heavy infestation in a matter of days. 

Lice statistics by race

Head lice are more common in Caucasian, Hispanic, and Asian American, and less common among African American

According to a study, roughly 10% of Caucasian children got lice while only 0.3% of African American children got lice. African Americans are more likely to use more hair products than other women, which is not conducive for lice growth. They also have curly hair and thicker hair strands which makes it difficult for the lice to grip. Here is the prevalence rate per race:

  • African- American- 0.5% prevalence rate
  • Caucasian- 10% prevalence rate
  • Hispanic- 6.4% prevalence rate
  • Asian- 15.1% prevalence rate

What percentage of Americans have had lice?

There are about 1% prevalence in North America 

According to the Journal of Parasitology, Clade B head lice originated in North America, and migrated to the rest of the world. However, the prevalence rate in America remained lesser than the rest of the world. Generally, there are about 1 out of 100 children who are infested with head lice among kindergarten to fourth graders. On the other hand, South America has a higher prevalence rate of Pediculosis infestation with a 2 to 80% rate. 

Where is lice most common in the US?

Study shows, it is more common in schools

According to Dr. Mervyn Elgart, emeritus professor of dermatology at George
Washington University, white people get head lice more often than other racial
groups, mostly happens at school when kids play with their schoolmates who are
infested with lice. They are usually less protective of their personal spaces
and more likely to get head-to-head contact with other children. They also
share personal items like hairbrushes or hair accessories, which increases the
risk of transmission.

There are no reliable studies conducted yet to determine which state has the highest prevalence of Pediculosis infestation in the U.S. However, there are about 6 to 12 million people get infected every year, most commonly among female children due to longer hair strands and more frequent head-to-head contact.

What race is more likely to get lice?

Asian has 15.1% prevalence rate’

According to several studies, Asian has 15.1% prevalence rate of lice infestation, which is relatively higher than other races such as African, Caucasian, or Hispanic.

What country has the most head lice?

Brazil has a 3.6% to 61.4% prevalence rate

Most of the studies are conducted in Brazil. Compared to other studies conducted on different continents of the world, Brazil has the highest rate so far, with about up to 61% prevalence rate of lice infestation. Also, some studies show that of high-level infestation rate in Israel, Denmark, Sweden, the U.K., France, and Australia.

What hair type is more susceptible to lice?

Lice infestation is more likely to happen in straight, thick, and fine hair

Lice can easily grip on hairs that are straight and fine rather than the coarse and curly hair strands. However, it doesn’t mean to say that curly hair is immune to lice infestation because lice can survive in all hair types. Lice are more common in females because female has longer hair than males. People who had medium long hair had the highest incidence of Pediculosis compared to those who had short hair.