Can bed bugs live in your hair?

get rid of bed bugs in hair
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How do you know if you have Bed Bugs in your hair?

You found a BUG in your hair! Could it be a bed bug? The best way to find out if you have bed bugs in hair or wigs is to kill the trespassing critter. A dead bug doesn’t crawl or jump or fly away, making it much easier to identify. Once you identify the bug, then you can either breathe a sigh of relief that the bug-hair collision was just a freak accident, or you have to start treating for whatever critter was creeping about your hair.

Can bed bugs live in your hair? The good news is that bed bugs do not like to live in human hair or lay their eggs in hair. The bad news is that other parasites do, such as head lice, fleas and ticks. They need treatment like medicated shampoos.

Why Bed Bugs do not like staying in hair

Although it is possible that the bug in your hair may be a bed bug, the chances are highly unlikely, according to Scientific American. Bed bugs lack the special hooks and claws that help the bug hang onto hair. They also have bodies that do not easily slide through hair, unlike fleas or head lice.

Bed bugs consider you a great big meal and not as a home or a nursery. Think of it this way – you may love pizza, but you don’t want to live on one. Bed bugs usually bite feet, legs arms or less hairy areas than the head, underarms or groin. These critters are champions at dining and dashing – rushing in, have a quick drink of your blood and rush back out.

close up picture of a bed bug in hair
Bed bugs may get into your hair but will not stay there.

Can bed bugs bite your scalp?

Yes, bed bugs can bite you on your scalp but they can usually reach other parts of your body far more easily and have a quick meal. Your neck, shoulders, back and arms will more accessible. Bed bug bodies are not suited to climbing through your hair either.

Can bed bugs lay eggs in your hair?

Bed bugs usually lay their eggs in cracks and crevices in close proximity around your bed, such as in the folds of your mattress. The chances of bed bugs laying their eggs in your hair is very unlikely.

Quick ways to rule out Bed Bugs in your hair

You have the corpse and a good magnifying glass or at least a clear view of the bug. Here are a few quick ways to tell right off the bat if you need to worry about what type of shampoo will kill bed bugs in hair.

  • If it has wings, it’s not a bed bug. Bed bugs cannot fly because they do not have wings.
  • If it has bright colors, stripes or spots. Bed bugs are solid-colored, and those colors are drab grey or tan. The bug may look dark red just after eating, but will not have any stripes or spots.
  • If it has eight legs, it’s not a bed bug.
  • If it has fangs or a long stinger that you can easily see, it’s not a bed bug. In fact, if it has clearly visible fangs or stinger, then bed bugs are the LEAST of your problems.

Bed Bugs, Fleas, Ticks and Head Lice Comparison

There are many websites and apps that compare bugs for you. Just enter the words “bug identifier” in your favorite search engine to find them. However, there are ways to identify the general type of bug that do not involve a computer. You need to at least know the body shape and number of legs.

bed bug in hair picture
Picture of a bed bug in hair.

Bed bugs have:

  • Roundish, flat bodies, often described as “a drop of blood with legs”
  • Tiny heads attached to the bodies
  • Six legs on the body
  • A pair of antennae on the head
flea in hair picture
Picture of a flea in hair.

Fleas

The Pulex Irritans species of flea lives on human blood and can live in your hair if not treated. You will need a shampoo to treat fleas in hair.

  • Bodies shaped roughly like a guitar pick
  • Narrow, thin bodies, usually brown or black in color
  • Round heads with long mouthparts that vaguely resemble a moustache
  • Six legs
  • The hind legs are incredibly long
  • No wings

Head Lice (also called Human Louse and Nits)

More common and more likely are head lice in your hair and on your scalp. They are tiny insects that hatch from eggs which are referred to as ‘nits’. They are very common in school children are easily caught as kids are in close proximity to each other. Head lice are very small and white or light grey in color.

  • Vaguely shaped like a spider with a tiny head and large butt
  • Pale or grey colored
  • Will give you an itchy scalp
  • Six legs and two antennae
  • No wings.

Ticks

Ticks can be very serious if not treated as they can transmit Lyme Disease (Lyme Borreliosis) and bacterial infection. Ticks burrow into your skin to bite and feed from you which makes them hard to remove, especially if they are in your hair and scalp.

  • Eight legs and two antennae
  • Vary in body size and shape depending whether if they have fed or not
  • Blue or grey in color after feeding
  • No wings.

How to get rid of bed bugs in  your hair

The chances are high that you do not have any more bed bugs in your hair, but it is still a good idea to wash your hair in hot water and shampoo. Bed bugs cannot swim, so any shampoo will get rid of bed bugs in hair. If you have wigs, wash them, too.

You need to treat your whole home and your car in order to eliminate a bed bug infestation. Fortunately, this does not necessitate any special way to treat bed bugs in your hair.

Pictures of bed bugs in hair – what do they look like?

If you have bed bugs in your hair you will want to know what they look like! Take a look at this selection of bed bugs in hair pictures to help you identify them.

How to get rid of head lice in hair and scalp

Lice are tricky to get rid of since they cling so tenaciously to human hair. They also lay their eggs on individual hair strands. These eggs are nearly impossible to remove. This is why most people with lice shave their heads, since it gives less space for the females to lay eggs there.

Although there are over the counter and prescription medicated shampoos for head lice, many can be killed by smothering in any kind of shampoo good for people. The hair needs to be heavily coated in shampoo. You may need to use a whole bottle, depending on how long your hair is.

Do not rinse the shampoo out. Use a comb to remove the dead lice. Wipe the comb on a rag or towel between strokes. Only after a thorough combing can you rinse.

You may need to repeat this procedure several times in the next few weeks to make sure of killing any newly-hatched lice.

No matter what shampoo you use, please see a doctor to be sure the lice are gone and that they are only head lice and not body lice or pubic lice. Those need different treatments of shampoos or medications.

bed bug and lice shampoo
Use a good shampoo to get rid of any bugs in your hair including lice.

How to get rid of fleas in your hair

The second most likely creature in your hair mistaken for a bed bug are fleas. The most common species is the cat flea – which loves just about all warm-blooded animals and not just cats. Fleas are equal opportunity biters and will drink blood from anything they jump on. Some people believe their bites are the most painful of all the creatures discussed here, but pain is subjective.

Pets need flea shampoo and medication to combat the critters. People should not use flea shampoo for animals but get shampoo from a human medical professional. The directions are usually different than for regular shampoo. You may need to let it sit in the hair up to ten minutes.

You also need to thoroughly vacuum furniture and carpets because these are the places where fleas most like to lay their eggs. Everyone in the family should be treated for fleas since they like to leap from body to body.

Combatting ticks in hair

The good news about ticks is that they are solitary critters. If you find one in your hair, still check for more, but the odds are there won’t be any more. The bad news is that you can pick up new ones any time you go outdoors.

Ticks need to be removed carefully. Here is the correct way to do it, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

  • Get a tweezer. Use the tweezer’s ends to grab the tick’s body next to your skin.
  • Pull with one even stroke. Try not to twist since this may leave part of the head in your skin, which can cause an infection.
  • Place live tick in alcohol or in a sealed container to kill.
  • Thoroughly wash the bite area and your hands with soap and water. Be sure to sterilize the tweezers.

What to do if you cannot identify the bug

It can be hard to identify any insect or arachnid, even when it is dead and not wiggling around. Admitting defeat is certainly justifiable. It’s much safer and less expensive in the long run to not guess at what the bug species is and let a professional do it. Place the corpse in a small plastic bag or container so it does not get lost.

If you can, take photos of both sides of the creature in case the corpse is lost. Professionals that can help identify the critter include:

  • Medical professionals like doctors, school nurses or physician’s assistants
  • Veterinarians
  • Exterminators
  • People who study insects, called entomologists
  • The agricultural extension departments of most major universities
  • The free Insect Identification Forum made up of members from the Amateur Entomologists’ Society who will gladly look at photos of your bug.

In conclusion

If you’ve ever wondered what do bed bugs look like in hair, they look like this – lost. Bed bugs are rarely, if ever, found in hair or on bodies. However, there are many other biting bugs that do like living in human hair and bodies, such as fleas, lice and ticks. Identify the bug and you are on your way to find the correct treatment. Always consult a doctor to help best treat bites or to check your head for any traces of uninvited insect guests.

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