Fleas are tiny parasitic pests, about the size of a sesame seed, that feed on animals. Aside from being a bloodsucking parasite, they’re often one of the most common parasites found in dogs and cats.
While they thrive and reproduce notoriously from animal hosts, we can’t help but fear that fleas can also live on human hair. Can fleas live on human hair?
Fleas cannot live on human hair. They can attach themselves to humans, but it’s less likely they’ll survive if they stay for long. Human hair lacks the necessary nutrients and environment that fleas need to survive.
For example, fleas mainly require moist environments. Human hair is too thin to offer a lot of moisture, which is why fleas are rarely found to live on human hair. They may find their way and crawl up in your scalp, but the chances of them living in your scalp are slim.
In fact, fleas prefer to live in the sebum, or oil, on human skin. They need that oil to stay hydrated. Without the sebum, fleas are likely to dehydrate and die.
Reasons Why Fleas Cannot Live on Human Hair
Fleas are a nuisance because they bite, which can cause itching and irritation, and they can also transmit diseases. Some people believe that fleas can live in human hair, but this is not the case. There are several reasons why fleas cannot survive on human hair.
Human Hair is Different Than Animal Fur
First, human hair is much more refined than animal fur, so fleas would have a difficult time getting a good grip. Animal fur is much coarser, and it provides a good place for fleas to hide. In contrast, human hair is much finer and does not provide the same level of humidity and protection.
Fleas Need Animal Blood to Survive
Another reason fleas cannot live on a human hair is that they need animal blood to survive. When fleas bite from the human scalp, they can extract blood, but this is not enough to sustain them. If the flea stays on the human’s head for long, it’ll die from starvation and won’t be able to successfully reproduce and feed.
Fleas Need a Certain Temperature to Survive
Fleas are most comfortable in temperatures between 70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, but they can also tolerate cooler temperatures for short periods of time. Human hair is usually much cooler than this, so it’s not a hospitable environment for fleas.
Additionally, they also prefer environments with relative humidity levels between 50 and 70 percent. Human hair is relatively drier and won’t be able to provide the fleas with enough moisture.
Human Hair is Too Fine for Fleas to Climb
The tiny hooks that line a flea’s legs are designed for grabbing onto coarse animal fur, not the smooth strands of human hair. Even if a flea could manage to get a grip on human hair, the hair is simply too fine for the flea to get any traction.
The flea would just slip and slide right off. So, while you may occasionally find a flea in your hair, it is very unlikely that the flea will be able to stay there for long.
How to Prevent Fleas From Getting on Your Head
While there’s truth that fleas won’t be able to live in your head like they do in animals, it doesn’t necessarily stop them from getting on your head in the first place. Here are some tips to prevent fleas from getting on your head and in your hair:
Keep Your Pets Flea-Free
The best way to prevent fleas from getting on your head is to keep your pets flea-free. That may seem like an obvious statement, but it’s worth repeating. If your pets have fleas, they’re going to be itching themselves a lot, and those fleas are going to be looking for any available piece of flesh – including your scalp.
So the first step in preventing fleas from getting on your head is to make sure that your pets are regularly treated for fleas. This usually involves using a topical medication that you apply to their skin or giving them oral medication prescribed by your veterinarian.
Vacuum Your Home Regularly
A flea infestation can quickly turn even the most well-kept home into a place of itchiness and frustration. Not only are these tiny pests annoying, but they can also carry diseases that pose a severe threat to both humans and pets. Fortunately, there are a few simple steps that everyone can take to help prevent fleas from taking up residence in their home.
One of the most effective is to vacuum regularly. Vacuuming not only removes fleas and their eggs from carpets and upholstery, but it also helps to remove the dirt and dust that fleas need to survive.
Use a vacuum bag treated with an insecticide to make sure that the fleas won’t be able to crawl out from the bag. Additionally, secure and tighten the bag, disposing of it immediately after vacuuming.
Wash Your Bedding and Pet Bedding Regularly
The best way to keep fleas off of your head (and your body) is to practice good hygiene and keep your surroundings clean. This means washing your bedding and pet bedding regularly in hot water, vacuuming often, and using insecticide sprays in cracks and crevices where fleas might hide.
You should also avoid sleeping on the ground or in areas where pets sleep, as this increases the risk of coming into contact with fleas.
Protect Yourself When You’re Outside
When you’re going out for a walk in the woods, camping, or hiking, it’s essential to take some precautions to avoid bringing fleas home with you. Wear light-colored clothing so that you can see fleas more easily, and tuck your pants into your socks to create a barrier between your skin and the ground. When you get home, wash your clothes and any exposed skin immediately.
If possible, wear insect repellent containing DEET to help keep fleas away. You can also treat your clothes with permethrin, which is an insecticide that kills fleas and ticks.
Fleas are notorious for being difficult to get rid of once they’ve infested an area. They can get in your hair, but different conditions make it difficult for fleas to live there.
You are more likely to find a flea on your head if you have pets with fleas or if you spend time in areas where fleas are common. Practice good hygiene, keep your surroundings clean and always keep yourself protected when going into areas where fleas might be present.