Bed bugs are becoming fairly common household pests these days, lurking in our beds and furniture. But do they ever crawl from these items into our hair?
Bed bugs don’t live in human hair but they can crawl onto a person’s scalp to bite them, though this is rare. A bed bug bites and crawls away to its hiding place in the room – it rarely stays on a person. If it does stay in the hair, the person will probably scratch or wash off the bed bug soon after.
I’ve come up with six reasons why bed bugs generally don’t live in hair, but that doesn’t mean they don’t sometimes crawl around in there.
By the end of this article, you’ll know:
- If bed bugs can live in human hair
- Where bed bugs hide on the body
- 6 reasons why bed bugs don’t like living in hair
- If bed bugs lay eggs in hair
- 6 signs you have bed bugs in your hair
- What to do if you have bed bugs in your hair
Can bed bugs live in human hair?
Bed bugs can survive on a person’s scalp, where there’s hair, but they won’t choose to live there. It doesn’t make any difference how long or short the person’s hair is, how clean or dirty it is, or if the hair is in dreadlocks or not.
If you have insects making your scalp itch and they’re there for a while, you probably have lice.
Sometimes, by chance, bed bugs crawl onto a person’s scalp to suck blood. But the bed bugs probably won’t spend a long time there and will soon crawl off back to their hiding place in the room.
It’s possible to find a bed bug in your hair, but a bed bug won’t try to live on your scalp. If there’s a bed bug in your hair, you’ll probably wash or scratch it out before long.
Where bed bugs hide on the body
Bed bugs don’t live or hide on humans. Bed bugs live in dark hiding places near to humans and come out every few nights to bite someone before returning to their hiding places.
When bed bugs feed at night, they are most likely to be found on exposed areas of the body, such as on the shoulders, arms, hands, face, and neck. They don’t spend long here, and leave once they’ve fed on the person’s blood.
Sometimes bed bugs end up hiding in our clothing, which means they’re hiding on our body when we wear these clothes. If bed bugs are hiding in clothing that we put on, then the bed bugs can be found pretty much anywhere on the body where the clothing touches.
It’s unlikely bed bugs will come out into the light and expose themselves.
6 reasons why bed bugs don’t like living in hair
Below are the six main reasons why bed bugs prefer hiding in dark places in a room rather than in human hair:
Bed bugs aren’t designed to move through hair
Insects or bugs that live in fur or hair have bodies that are designed to move easily through hair. Their bodies tend to be long and slender, so they can navigate their way around fine hairs.
But a bed bug’s body is wide and flat, so it’s very difficult for a bed bug to move through hairs that are close together. This is one of the reasons why bed bugs don’t live on animals or in human hair.
People scratch and kill bed bugs in their hair
Bed bugs hide for a reason: they don’t want to be bothered or killed by people.
A bed bug that’s hiding in human hair runs the risk of being discovered very quickly and killed when the person is awake, which goes against its survival instinct. Hiding in mattresses, box springs, and other places in a room is much safer than trying to survive in human hair.
Bed bugs know this so they stay away from people altogether, until it’s time to feed and they have to venture out.
People’s scalps change temperature too often
Bed bugs like to live in warm places, where it’s usually between 70 and 80 °F (21 – 27 °C). They can survive in both hotter and colder temperatures, but that’s not where they want to stay long term.
People move around a lot. Our heads get hot in the sun, become warm indoors, and cool down quickly if we stand in the shade or sit in an air-conditioned room.
Bed bugs don’t like all these changes in temperature, so they definitely don’t like living on human scalps.
People spend too much time in dry areas
Bed bugs enjoy humid conditions, where there’s moisture in the air.
Humans spend a lot of time in dry climates, where there’s little to no humidity. For example, the air conditioning in cars, on public transport, and in office buildings makes the air very dry. Bed bugs don’t like these conditions and prefer not to be in these places on our head.
Bed bugs can’t latch onto skin
A bed bug injects anesthetic and an anti-coagulant into its human victim, to numb the skin and keep the blood flowing. Then the bed bug bites and sucks the person’s blood. Once the bed bug is done eating, it lets go and crawls back to safety in its hiding place.
A bed bug never latches onto a person’s skin and stays there. Its goal is to eat and get away back to its home.
This means that bed bugs have no means or reason to attach themselves to a human scalp and hide in human hair, so you probably won’t find them in hair.
Human hair gets wet
Bed bugs drown in water, so they tend to avoid it at all costs.
Smaller or younger bed bugs and those that aren’t full from eating can float and survive in water for a few days, but add soap to the water and all bed bugs die quickly (here’s a DIY recipe that uses dish soap to kill bed bugs).
People wash their hair with water and shampoo, and bed bugs don’t like warm water or soapy shampoo. So bed bugs stay out of human hair that gets wet, and they stick to places that stay dry.
Bed bugs can lay eggs in hair
It’s possible for bed bugs to lay eggs in a person’s hair, but this rarely happens. Bed bugs prefer to lay their eggs near a bed where a person sleeps, so the larvae that hatch are close to a human to feed on.
6 signs you have bed bugs in your hair
If you have bed bugs in your hair and they bite you, you’ll notice bites on your scalp or a rash if you scratch them when they itch.
Below are 6 signs there might be bed bugs in your hair:
- Intense scalp itching
- Swollen red bites
- Bites in groups of three, rows, or zigzags
- You get bitten every 3 to 10 days
- Most itching or biting happens at 4 a.m. in the morning
- You find bed bugs in your bed (find out where to sleep if you have bed bugs)
Some people, especially older folks, have no reaction to bed bug bites and show no signs at all that they’ve been bitten.
Bed bugs are oval, reddish-brown, and the size of an apple seed – ¼ inch (6 mm) long. They are flat when hungry but bloated and swollen with blood after feeding.
The picture below shows you what bed bugs look like and what to look for if you want to identify a bed bug in your hair.
What to do if you have bed bugs in your hair
Below are some of the best methods and products from Amazon to get rid of and prevent bed bugs in your hair:
- Wash your hair regularly: Regular shampooing will help remove bed bugs – wash hair at least once a day until all bed bugs are gone. Lather the shampoo well and gently work the shampoo into your hair roots, leaving it in for a few minutes to drown any bed bugs that come into contact with it. Soapy water drowns bed bugs – here are 7 other ways to kill bed bugs.
- Blow dry your hair: Set your blow dryer to a hot setting and run the hot hair over your hair, until it’s dry. Bed bugs hate hot hair and some may die in the heat.
- Wash things that come near your hair: Wash all your bedding, towels, hats and clothing on the hottest setting possible, to kill bed bugs.
- Use tea tree oil to kill bed bugs: Purchase a ready-made tea tree shampoo, or add several drops of tea tree oil to the shampoo in your hand before washing your hair. Tea tree oil kills bed bugs and lice.
- Wash with dish soap: Wash your hair with lemon dish soap and rinse well.
- Comb hair with a lice comb: Run a fine-toothed, stainless steel lice comb from your roots to the ends, to remove all bed bugs and their eggs.
- Apply baking soda: Apply a paste of baking soda, salt, and water to your scalp to kill bed bugs. Leave the paste on for 10 minutes, then rinse it out with warm water.
- Spray on apple cider vinegar: Bed bugs hate the smell of apple cider vinegar. Add a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to water in a spray bottle. Wet your hair, then spray on the apple cider solution. Leave it to soak for 15 minutes before washing it out.
- Treat your house for bed bugs: If you have bed bugs in your home, click here to find out how to get rid of them.