Fleas are typically attributed to pets like dogs and cats, but these parasites have been known to infest human hair as well, especially in the absence of their preferred host. It can be a huge cause of concern given all the itching, irritation, and other health issues they can cause.
Interestingly enough, out of all the thousands of species of fleas, only one – the Pulex Irritans – is known to feed on human blood. For the most part, while fleas can and will roam around your hair, they won’t be able to survive there for long.
In this article, we’ll talk about everything you need to know when it comes to fleas in human hair, including how it happens, how to spot it, and how to get rid of this infestation.
What are fleas and how do they differ from lice?
Both fleas and lice are tiny wingless parasites that can feast on human and animal blood. That said, fleas are dark or black creatures that have the ability to jump from one host to another, whereas lice are yellow or white insects that are limited to crawling. Fleas also have the tendency to move around while lice remain attached to a single hair follicle.
Moreover, while lice can only survive for a couple of days without a host, fleas can live for as long as 100 days without feeding, making environmental infestation a bigger problem.
How do fleas get in your hair?
Fleas are known to jump long distances compared to their small size. This translates to an average height of 6 inches, and a distance range of 8 to 19 inches. As a result, most flea bites are concentrated around the ankles.
It also means that in order for a flea to get into your hair, you would have to either lie down somewhere with an infestation of fleas (such as soil or dirty carpets and mattresses) or hold a flea-infested pet close to your head. Otherwise, a flea won’t get very far.
Now, you might be wondering whether it’s possible for a flea to climb from the ground all the way to your hair or even just your pubic area. Fortunately, the answer is no. Fleas aren’t really fond of climbing, and what’s more likely to happen is for a flea to find bare skin then bite and feed for a bit before jumping off and finding a new host.
How do you know if there are fleas in your hair?
There are quite a few symptoms that can help tell you whether you have fleas roaming around your hair. These include the following:
- Intense itching around the neck or scalp due to flea bites
- Red bumps and welts on the skin that can feel really itchy and can last for 2 to 3 days
- Blisters filled with pus – these happen when you scratch flea bites
- A feeling that something is crawling in your hair, which can either be fleas or head lice
That said, there are some people who don’t experience any of these symptoms, and the most likely explanation is developed immunity against flea bites. In other words, you’ve been bitten one too many times that you’ve simply stopped caring.
What is the best way to get rid of fleas in your hair?
There are actually many different ways to treat a flea infestation on both human hair. Here are some of the best ones:
The easiest and most effective way of getting rid of fleas in your hair is to shampoo your hair regularly. Gently work the shampoo into your hair roots, repeatedly run your fingers through your strands, be on the lookout for any flea attempting an escape, and rinse thoroughly.
Your regular shampoo should work just fine, but you can also opt to use shampoo products specifically made for hair mites and lice like this LiCeLogic treatment shampoo, or this complete lice treatment kit that comes with a conditioner, leave-in treatment, and two combs . Shampoo as usual, let it sit for about 10 minutes, then thoroughly rinse with warm water.
Another option is to use tea-tree oil shampoos like this one from Botanic Hearth that also addresses itchiness, since tea tree oil is naturally antimicrobial and anti-parasitic, thereby having the ability to kill fleas, lice, and any eggs these parasites may lay on your scalp.
Using a fine toothed comb
Of course, you can also manually remove the fleas from your hair by combing them out with a fine toothed comb. You can try using whatever you have at home, but it’s better to use combs specifically designed to get rid of dead lice, fleas, and their eggs, such as this one from Amazon which even comes with a magnifier to help you spot any flea.
Having said that, this is best paired with another method such as shampooing or other treatments rather than a standalone solution to fleas or head lice, since the goal is to kill off the parasites first as live ones will only crawl and jump to escape the comb.
DIY treatments with household ingredients
There are quite a few things in your pantry that can double as an effective remedy against fleas in human hair. For starters, you can shampoo your hair with lemon scented dish soap (this also works amazingly well for flea-infested pets).
There’s also the staple mix of water and baking soda. You just need to apply the paste on your hair, let sit for 10 minutes or longer, then rinse off.
Or, you can try lathering your hair in a mixture of warm water and apple cider vinegar, cover with a shower cap and leave for 15 minutes, then rinse as usual. The strong acidic nature of the vinegar is sure to kill the fleas and their eggs, and make your scalp a harmful environment for any flea to survive.
Getting fleas in your hair can be anywhere from a mild annoyance to a serious problem as you deal with anything from itching and irritation to hot red blisters and a seemingly impossible to treat flea infestation.
Fortunately, there are many different solutions you can try, and even more prevention measures that you can easily do to stop fleas in their tracks and keep your home – and body – safe from these parasites.
It can be as easy as vacuuming and cleaning your carpet regularly, and washing your pillows, sheets, towels, and other items that regularly come into contact with your hair. Put them in the washing machine, set to high temperature, rinse, and put them in the dryer for good measure.
Finally, to really get to the root of things, protect your pets and keep them clean, not only because they are the most likely source of a flea infestation, but because they deserve to live a happy, healthy, itch-free and flea-free life. Something as simple as checking your dog’s fur, clothes, and toys every time you get home from a walk can make a world of difference.