We all know that our canine friends often end up with fleas, and we certainly know it isn’t fun for them when it happens. But we must also consider the unfortunate question: can dog fleas live in human hair?
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Some Fleas Can Live in Human Hair
The answer to the question of whether dog fleas can live in human hair is that, for the most part, they cannot, but it is still worth taking precautions to prevent fleas from getting into your hair. There are roughly 2,000 species of fleas, and thankfully only one species of flea that will live in human hair.
This flea species is called Pulex irritans but is referred to colloquially as human fleas or house fleas. They can be found on a wide variety of host animals, including dogs, and are fairly common.
The most common type of fleas found on household dogs are either cat fleas (Ctenocephalides felis) or dog fleas (Ctenocephalides canis), who will bite people occasionally, but won’t live in their hair.
While human fleas live in people’s hair, thankfully, they cannot breed in human hair. This means that even if you get fleas in your hair, you won’t end up getting a massive outbreak of fleas like you would with lice. However, you can still get bitten, and the fleas will keep biting you as long as they can.
Once in your hair, fleas can stay there for hours, but you will generally feel them biting you, so you will know to remove them.
They like to bite people’s feet and ankles but cannot live there because there is not enough hair for them in these areas. So while fleas will find it easiest to live in your hair or beard, you will most likely get bites down low.
How Do You Get Fleas in Your Hair?
Fleas are most likely to jump either directly from your dog’s fur to your hair or linger on a piece of fabric before jumping to your hair. Although fleas can jump exceptionally far relative to their size, they cannot jump that far in our terms. Fleas can generally jump about eight inches horizontally or bounce up six inches vertically.
Generally, you’d be pretty close to your dog for the fleas to make a jump from your furry friend to you. Your face squeezing up against your Golden Retriever may make for an adorable picture for your Instagram, but you may end up with some unwanted reminders afterward!
Because fleas cannot jump that far, you are most likely to get fleas in your hair by resting your head on fibers your dog has also recently rested upon.
This means if you let your puppy into your bed or onto your couch, you run the risk of getting fleas in your hair. We know it is tough for you to kick man’s best friend out of your bed, but it is worth it if they have fleas.
You can also get your dog’s fleas from a variety of other spots. Any fiber that comes into contact with your hair and your pooch can be a source of transmission.
What Happens When You Get Bitten by Fleas?
If fleas bite you, you will most likely have red spots appear at the site of the bites. These spots will itch and will likely cause swelling around the area of the bite. If you scratch the bites, you can cause an infection, so you should try your best not to scratch that itch!
Fleas can carry bacteria, which can be transferred to you when they bite you. The most notorious of these bacteria is Yersinia pestis, which causes the plague. But don’t get too worried, you are not likely to get the plague from your dog, and there are plenty of treatments available if you do.
Flea bites can also cause an allergic reaction. If you are allergic to flea bites, you may break out in a rash or hives. If that is the case, or if you experience increased swelling, you may require more serious medication or treatment. You should go see a doctor for professional advice.
What Should You Do if Fleas Find Their Way into Your Hair?
Because fleas cannot reproduce in human hair, there’s no need to get the clippers out if you find fleas in your hair. Instead, you should wash your hair out with shampoo, especially tea tree oil shampoo if you have it. This should get rid of most – if not all – of the fleas in your hair.
As mentioned previously, any fiber a flea-infested dog had contact with can be a source of transmission. Fleas and flea eggs can transfer between animal and guman. Once you’ve washed your own hair and addressed your dog’s flea condition, you should also make sure to wash your bedsheets – especially your pillowcases – and anywhere with fibers that your dog touches. This can ensure you’ll break the cycle of getting fleas infested again.
As for treating the flea bites, you should be able to pick up some cream that will help with any itching at your local pharmacy. There are also plenty of home remedies that will help with your flea bites, including rubbing alcohol or tea tree oil. Keeping the bites cool can also help with the irritation, so ice or aloe vera can help soothe any of your bites.
How Do You Avoid Getting Fleas?
If you are well-groomed, you are less likely to find fleas or flea larva living in your hair. Fleas tend to like thick, matted, or scruffy hair. Because of this, they are more likely to find their way into bushy beards or ratty dreadlocks than well combed and cleaned hair.
Regularly showering and washing your hair makes it less likely that you will end up with fleas living in your hair.
Keeping your sheets clean and washing your towels and blankets on a regular basis will also make it less likely that any fleas that have found their way onto your canine pal will be able to make the jump from their hair to yours. Cleanliness is a major part of flea control.
If you make sure to wash your clothes after wearing them around your dog and keep your canine away from your clean clothes, this can also stop fleas in their tracks.
Vacuuming as often as possible and making sure to empty the vacuum bags after each cleaning session also goes a long way in preventing fleas from spreading.
If you keep yourself and your home clean, you dramatically reduce the chance of fleas ending up in your hair, on top of all the other benefits of having a clean house and good hygiene, of course.
Try to Avoid Your Dog Getting Fleas
Another critical factor in keeping fleas under control is making sure your dog is well-groomed. Unlike you, your furry friend is the perfect breeding ground for fleas.
It will not be as obvious that your pup has fleas as it is when you do, so you may not notice until the fleas have made the jump to your hair.
Giving your Labradoodle or Akita regular baths with dog shampoo will help get rid of the fleas from their fur. Petting and combing through their hair can also help you find and fleas early and can help you catch the fleas before they multiply. Plus, it’s always fun petting your pup!
See our picks for flea treatments that kill dog fleas instantly.
Although flea collars are not 100% effective, they still provide substantial protection against the proliferation of fleas. However, old flea collars do not work as well, so you should make sure to replace your dog’s flea collar every year. Flea shampoo can be uses to help reduce a flea problem. The combintion of the clear collar, flea treatment and a flea comb will remova a flea infestation and reduce flea dirt.
Of course, keeping your dog away from other animals who may be carrying fleas will help slow the spread of fleas. Unfortunately, every dog owner knows that there is no way to keep dogs apart once they are in an off-leash area! But keeping your pets away from strays and wild animals will go a long way in preventing them from getting fleas.
Finally, regular visits to the vet cannot hurt and could help spot any adult flea or flea eggs early. If your canine friend seems to be itching excessively, it may be worth giving them an extra look, whether professionally or just by yourself.
While dog fleas thankfully cannot breed in human hair, they can cause significant irritation by biting people and can live inside thick hair and beards. They cannot live in human hair for too long, but they can bring harmful bacteria with them.
If you maintain reasonable hygiene standards for yourself and your dog, you can keep the fleas at bay. Regularly wash your and your dog’s hair, and keep your sheets and carpets clean. Keep your hair away from your dog’s fur.
And I know this one will be tough, but if you have a tick or flea prone dog, and want to avoid fleas living in your hair, you will have to make your furry friends sleep in their own beds.