Can Bed Bugs Live In Your Hair?

Bed bugs have a reputation for living close to people so they can feed on our blood, but does that mean they can live in your hair or on any other parts of your body?

Here’s what you need to know from someone with decades of experience treating bed bug infestations.

Written by: A O’Neill, Licensed Pest Management Professional

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Is It Possible For Bed Bugs To Get In Your Hair?

There’s one place bed bugs definitely won’t be living: in your hair.  But can they get in your hair?  Yes, it is possible for them to crawl into your hair and bite your scalp if they are on your neck or shoulders searching for a blood meal.

Having said that, they won’t purposely crawl into your hair as it is unlikely they would venture past your hairline because they prefer to feed on bare skin, such as your back, arms, face, and shoulders, for example. 

Although you might find the odd bed bug in your hair (especially if you have a heavy infestation), bed bugs do not nest or lay eggs in your hair.

In fact, a study carried out by the University of Sheffield found that bed bugs find it harder to feed on skin that has hair on it.[1] 

Large welts on arm from bed bug bites
Bed bug bites on bare skin Credit: James Heilman, MD / CC BY-SA

How Should You Remove Bed Bugs From Your Hair?

If you think a bed bug is crawling around in your hair, give your hair a good comb-through or take a hot shower.

You should also look at your pillowcase and bed sheet for any signs of bed bugs. Wash them thoroughly on a hot wash and tumble dry them on the hottest setting. Then get your mattress protected with a bedbug-proof mattress cover. You can buy it in stores or by clicking on the link to Amazon – make sure it is labeled bed bug proof. 

Related: How to choose a bed bug mattress encasement   

Having bed bugs can be worrying, especially if you think they’re crawling in your hair. That’s understandable, and there is a lot of information out there telling you what you should do. Thankfully, most of it is good advice.  

However, not all of it is as one site mentions you can get a bed bug infestation in your hair, and to get rid of it, you should shave all of your hair off! This is poor advice and incorrect information.

Related: What you should & should not do if you have bed bugs

As I said, it’s unlikely that bed bugs are in your hair, so what else can be mistaken for bed bugs? It’s more likely to be head lice. 

Do You Have Head Lice or Bed Bugs?

To be clear, bed bugs do not cause lice or turn into lice.  Bed bugs and head lice are two different pests but both need human blood to survive.

Bed bugs are bigger than head lice and live in mattress seams and cracks and crevices on and near your bed. They are nocturnal and come out to feed on exposed areas of your body when you are asleep leaving you with bed bug bites, returning to their harborage areas once they have finished. 

Head lice live on you all the time, in your hair, feeding on your scalp and making it itch. They also lay their eggs in your hair by attaching them to the strands.   

Can Bed Bugs Live On or Inside Your Body?

No, bed bugs do not live on or in your body. They will crawl onto your body to take a blood meal, but they do not stay on your skin once they have fed. 

Close up photo of adult bed bug from side view feeding on human
Bed bug feeding on human blood
Credit: Public Health Image Library publicdomainfiles.com

In fact, bed bugs like to hide in dark places where they cannot be seen and return to these once they have fed to digest your blood and then mate.  They lay their eggs in these dark harborage areas away from any predators.

If Bed Bugs Don’t Live In Your Hair, Then Where Do They Live?

Bed bugs are most commonly found close to a host, and as they are nocturnal, that makes the bed or anywhere else you sleep like the couch their primary place to hide.    

On the bed, you’ll find them on the mattress seams and piping, on the box spring, behind the headboard, and in cracks and crevices of the bed frame.    

Bed bugs can have many harborage sites, especially when the infestation grows, but that doesn’t include your hair or anywhere else on your body. In all my years working in pest control, I have not met anyone who has reported having bed bugs in their hair.

The best thing to do if you suspect you have bed bugs is to try and find out how you got them in the first place so you can prevent reintroducing them into your home again. Contact a pest control professional who will be able to put your mind at rest and confirm whether you have bed bugs or not. However, you won’t find bed bugs living in your hair.

Another option is to read how to get rid of bed bugs permanently for expert tips on eliminating this pest yourself.

Related pages

Can bed bugs infest books?

Can bed bugs bite through fabric?

Can you get bed bugs from public transport?

[1] https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/news/nr/bed-bugs-bite-1.174414