How to Treat Fleas in Human Hair? | Information and Facts

Written by Thomas Matthews

Fleas are parasitic nuisances usually found in pets like dogs and cats. However, they can also infest humans. If you suspect to have fleas no need to panic but make sure to treat the condition before their numbers get out of hand.

You can get rid of fleas from your hair with either of the following ways: applying shampoo, using a thick paste made out of 2 tablespoons of baking soda and 2 teaspoons of water, applying diluted apple cider vinegar in water, or adding a few drops of tea tree oil into your shampoo before washing.

Read further if you want to know more about fleas, how long they last in human hair, how you can determine if you have them, reasons why you should be concerned about flea bites, and other interesting information! 

Can Dog Fleas or Cat Fleas Live on Humans?

Can Dog Fleas or Cat Fleas Live on Humans

Fleas cannot survive living on humans, but they can feed on them as well as stay on human skin and clothes for a short period of time. 

Dog fleas (Ctenocephalides canis) and cat fleas (Ctenocephalides felis) don’t have any decent hiding places in the human body due to the lack of hair. As such, they won’t be able to do any of the following: attach themselves to their human hosts, receive insulation to help them survive, reproduce, and complete their life cycle. 

However, dog fleas and cat fleas will readily attack humans when their non-human host is absent, as hungry adult fleas accumulate and feed on any warm-blooded animal in their vicinity without being selective. 

Can Fleas Lay Eggs in Human Hair?

Can Fleas Lay Eggs in Human Hair

Fleas can lay eggs in human hair. However, this occurrence is rare as human hair, and the human scalp to an extent lacks the proper nutrition that fleas need for their fertility and reproductive ability. 

Adult fleas feed on human blood, but they heavily scavenge on organic matter found on or near the sleeping sites of their hosts, such as dandruff, grain particles, debris on the floor or around their immediate environment, and body wastes, which are mostly absent on a human’s scalp. 

Moreover, flea larvae develop well in dark and moist environments. Given that humans are usually exposed to sunlight, adult fleas are further dissuaded from laying eggs on human hair.

How Do You Get Rid of Fleas in Human Hair?

How Do You Get Rid of Fleas in Human Hair
  • Shampoo. Any type and brand can work—just simply lather the shampoo onto your hair and massage gently. Make sure you get to scrub your hair roots properly to remove stubborn fleas. Afterward, remove the fleas by using a wide-toothed comb or just your fingers. 
  • Apple Cider Vinegar. ACV can cleanse your hair and scalp without stripping them of their necessary oils as long as they are diluted in water in a 1:1 ratio. After you create your mixture in a spray bottle, spritz it into your hair and leave for 5 to 15 minutes. Finally, rinse your hair and scalp thoroughly. You can apply a hydrating conditioner or aloe vera afterward. 
  • Tea Tree Oil. Add a few drops of tea tree oil to your shampoo. It has antiparasitic properties that are capable of suppressing the growth or eradicating parasites. Additionally, it also helps lessen the irritation from flea bites.
  • Baking Soda. Create a thick paste by mixing 2 teaspoons of water and 2 tablespoons of baking soda. Apply and gently lather it onto your hair and scalp before leaving it on for 10 to 15 minutes. Finally, rinse using lukewarm water.

Will Fleas Stay and Live In Your Hair?

Fleas will not stay and live in your hair. They will stay but only for a short period as they won’t be able to survive the environment and living conditions the human hair provides.

How Long Can Fleas Live on Humans?

Although there is no exact time on how long they’re able to live and survive on humans, it is highly unlikely that they will stay for a long period. They’ll most likely be gone before they’re able to reproduce since they can be washed or scratched off.

How Do You Know If You Have Fleas in Your Hair?

How Do You Know If You Have Fleas in Your Hair

If you’re experiencing one or more of the following symptoms, it’s likely that you have fleas in your hair and should apply treatment as soon as possible:

  • Raised itchy bumps on the scalp that are reddish or pinkish.
  • Bites on the lower legs as the fleas would first attack there. Check for bites on other parts of your body as well.
  • Having allergic dermatitis, which results in hair loss, more intense itching, and reddening of the skin. 

Should You Be Concerned With Flea Bites?

Should You Be Concerned With Flea Bites

You should be concerned with flea bites because fleas serve as vectors for disease pathogens and play a key role in disease transmission.  

An example of one of the deadliest incidents is the Black Death, which was a plague that occurred in the 14th century. It’s caused by Yersinia pestis, a bacillus that lived primarily in rats but was transmitted by fleas that the rats harbored. At least 29 species of fleas were known to transmit the plague bacillus, including the dog flea and cat flea.

The oriental rat flea (Xenopsylla cheopis) is also known as a principal vector of murine typhus caused by the microorganism Rickettsia mooseri. It is suspected to be transmitted from rats to humans via scratching or rubbing the inflected flea feces onto the bite wounds fleas create. 

Fleas can serve as intermediate hosts for the rodent tapeworm, Hymenolepis diminuta, and the dog tapeworm Dipylidium caninum, which are known to attack humans, especially young children, on occasion. 

If you’re experiencing a rash or headache that doesn’t go away and a high fever, call your doctor immediately and get diagnosed. 

How Long Does It Take for Flea Bites on a Human to Go Away?

It depends on your sensitivity toward flea bites. They are typically harmless and could clear up anytime from a few hours to a week, even without applying treatment. 

However, if you scratch them and they become small open wounds, they could get infected. In this case, it will take longer to heal, and you might have to see your physician be prescribed the appropriate medicine to treat it. 

If you’re allergic, it may take up to weeks for the bites to go away. This depends on how rigorous your body is working on fighting the allergies. 

Related: Flea Bites on Humans: Identification, Treatment, Allergic Reactions & More

What Do Fleas Hate?

What Do Fleas Hate

Fleas have excellent olfactory senses thanks to their antennae, which are used to detect smells. As such, they hate strong smells such as mint, cedarwood oil, clove oil, lemongrass oil, rosemary oil, vinegar, citrus fruits or citrus scents in general, and diethyltoluamide (DEET) in insect repellents. 

Home Remedies to Get Rid of Fleas in Human Hair

Use either shampoo, diluted apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil in shampoo, or a thick baking soda-water paste to remove fleas in human hair.

What Shampoo Kills Fleas on Humans?

Maple Holistics Tea Tree Oil Shampoo 

This tea tree oil-based shampoo can remove fleas. It also cleanses, exfoliates, and moisturizes your hair and scalp. It works for all hair types, including those with color-treated hair, and is free of paraben and sulfate. 

WOW Skin Science Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo 

Remove fleas using ACV while leaving your hair and scalp feeling deeply cleansed and rejuvenated. This product is a vegan shampoo and is hypoallergenic, cruelty-free, and free from sulfates and parabens. 

Wondercide Repel Soap Bar 

If you prefer a multipurpose bath bar, this is the best choice for you. It is carefully formulated with the highest-grade citronella, germanium, coconut oil, and shea butter for a gentle but effective product for removing fleas while keeping your hair and scalp healthy and moisturized.

Preventing a Flea Infestation in Your Home

If your pets are already infected with fleas, visit your veterinarian. They can recommend flea control regimens for your pet. They will most likely prescribe medication that is specially formulated to be absorbed into your pet’s bloodstream and ultimately kill fleas that suck blood from your pet’s skin.

You may also likely be recommended over-the-counter insecticides that you use to spray onto areas that are infested with fleas, such as your pet’s beddings and rugs, as well as cracks, crevices, carpeting, upholstered furniture, and other areas where fleas may be present.

To remove fleas entirely from your homes, make sure to regularly clean your entire household. Vacuum areas and living spaces that are regularly visited by your pets.

Related: How To Kill Fleas? Best Flea Killers

Can Humans Carry Fleas From One Home to Another?

Humans can carry fleas from one home to another. However, it is a rare occurrence as fleas may have already been shed off of the human or have died before they can even be spread from one home to another. Furthermore, they might not even survive the travel as they prefer and thrive in animal host environments rather than on humans themselves.

Fleas don’t usually live in human hair as it lacks the necessary environmental conditions for their survival. However, they can stay on the hair and scalp as well as clothes for a short period. If you have fleas in your hair, treat them right away. You can use shampoo, tea tree oil, apple cider vinegar, or baking soda.

List of Sources

Ebeling, W. Urban Entomology Chapter 9, Part 3: Fleas. UC Riverside – Department of Entomology.

Cat Flea. Michigan State University.

Pathak, D. (2017). What you need to know about flea and tick bites this summer. Baylor College of Medicine.

Seryadar, K. R., Kaufman, P. E. (2020). Dog Flea. University of Florida.

Fleas. (2021). University of Maryland.

Thomas Matthews
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