Can Head Lice Live on Pillows and Beds?

October 10, 2022
3 min read

Yes! It is possible for head lice to survive for a short period of time on pillows, mattresses, bedding, clothing, hair accessories, combs, brushes, and other items used by infested individuals. Lice can also be transmitted from one person to another through close contacts, such as hugging, sleeping together, or sharing personal items like hats, scarves, combs, etc. In addition, lice can move from one head to another if both share the same bedding; however, this is very rare.

What are head lice?


A head lice is a tiny insect that lives in human hair and feeds on blood. They are usually found near the scalp. There is no danger of head lice transmitting diseases, but they can cause an itchy rash. In response to the presence of these tiny parasites, the body releases histamine, causing itching.

Where are head lice more commonly found?

The majority of lice and nits are found on the scalp, particularly close to the neckline and behind the ears. Sometimes, it can be found on the eyelashes or eyebrows, but this is rare. With six hook-like claws on each end of their legs, head lice hold tightly to hair. As a result, the nits of head lice stick firmly to the hair shaft and are difficult to remove, even when the nymphs hatch and the empty casings remain.

How do head lice spread?

Head lice are most common among preschoolers, elementary schoolchildren, and the household members of infested children. It is most common among children 3 to 11 years of age(1).

As head lice are incapable of flying or hopping, they move by crawling. The spread of head lice occurs through direct contact with an infected person’s hair. When someone comes into contact with someone with head lice, they are most likely to get it. The lice can crawl onto clothing and onto another person’s hair and scalp, but this must happen quickly because they cannot live for a long time without food.

How long do head lice live on bedding and pillows?

bed with pillows

If the hair that lice are attached to falls, then the lice can get into your pillow or bedding. They cannot “fall” on pillows, sheets, stuffed animals, and other bedding by themselves. Therefore, it is not possible for them to live on these surfaces, as well as hats, scarves, furniture, or carpets.

In order to survive, lice must eat several times a day. Using their piercings, they draw blood from the scalp. It is impossible for lice to live without a human host for longer than 24 hours. It’s important to know this when it comes to lice because there are some misconceptions about how lice spread.

Is it important to wash pillows after lice?

Some experts recommend washing all bedding, including pillows, in hot water to kill any remaining lice. Others say that washing pillows are not necessary since lice cannot survive on the human scalp for more than a few hours. It is entirely up to you if you choose to wash your pillows after you get lice.

We recommend you should wash pillows after louse infestation. If washing beddings or pillows are difficult for you, you can vacuum them or seal them in a plastic bag for a few days. Even if any lice are left behind in your pillows, you can be sure they will be dead within this time.



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