Have you ever woken up with an itchy rash on your head? If so, you might have lice on your head and mattress, which will have you thinking about many things. Among the things you want to know is, how long do lice live on mattresses?
Lice can survive on a mattress for a couple of weeks to a month. However, lice will only live and survive where they have a constant supply of food, which is blood. Lice also prefer to live at the head, where they can feed from a host, lay eggs, and begin a new cycle after the old ones die.
Simply put, lice typically live on human hair, where they have a regular meal. However, they can also live on mattresses for two to four weeks. Read on to discover more about lice on mattresses.
How Long Do Body Lice Live On Mattress?
Lice do not ideally want to live on mattresses. Instead, they prefer living on their hosts continually. However, body lice can live on an infected person's clothing and bedding. Body lice can live on mattresses for two weeks to a month, but this will only happen if they have a meal supply. Typically, body lice can only go 24 to 48 hours apart from their meal source. Unlike fleas or bedbugs, they cannot survive on your mattress unless you lay on it every night.
Can You Get Lice From Not Washing Your Hair?
No, you cannot get lice from not washing your hair. Lice are only contracted when you get them physically or through an object like a hat or bedding used by an infected person. Note that lice are human parasites. Therefore, they do not live in the wild; you can only get them from an infected person.
Not washing your hair cannot cause lice; washing it can also not get rid of them. When you wash your hair, it strips off its natural oil secretions, preventing the lice from effectively attaching to strands, moving, or feeding. Therefore, washing your hair makes it easier for lice to maneuver through it, attach eggs to hair strands, and breed.
In contrast, if your lice infection is mild and no eggs have been laid, washing your hair often can eliminate it. However, this is not an effective method of lice control.
What Are The Sources Of Lice On Mattresses?
Contrary to popular belief, lice infestations are not caused by poor personal or home hygiene, long hair, or being outdoors. Instead, the following elements can cause lice infestations on your mattresses;
Contact With A Person With Lice
One of the primary sources of lice on mattresses is direct contact with a person with lice. Note that lice differ from ordinary human parasites that jump or fly from one place to another. One of the only ways they can get on a mattress is if someone who has them gets in direct contact with it. For example, if someone with lice sits or sleeps on the bed.
Contact With Infected Objects
Apart from direct contact with a lice-infected person, these human parasites can get on a mattress through objects like hats, pillows, headphones, combs, hair accessories, clothes, bedding, or scarves. If an infected person uses these objects, the lice may attach to them. Simply, the lice can transfer to your mattress when the objects get on your bed. Note that lice always originate from another person who already has them.
Can Head Lice Live On Pillows And Sheets?
The answer to this question is not straightforward because it can be yes or no. Firstly, yes, head lice can live on pillows and sheets, but they do not infest pillows and sheets by themselves. Lice do not fall, fly, or jump off their hosts onto your pillows and sheets. Instead, the lice get on your pillows and sheets when your hair falls.
Head lice usually attach to hair strands. Therefore, when your hair falls onto your beddings, the lice on its strands get on your pillows and sheets. Note that lice cannot survive away from the host for more than 24 to 48 hours because they need to feed on blood.
How To Get Rid Of Lice
A lice infestation can be troubling. But with the right treatment, you can get rid of it. Below are some steps to help you get rid of lice.
Step 1: Identify Them
The first thing you must do is identify the lice. Lice are small, brown insects usually found on warm-blooded animals like humans. Besides physical identification, you can also recognize lice by looking out for symptoms like itchy and flaky scalps.
Step 2: Wash Your Hair
Once you are sure that you have lice, the next step is to wash your hair with a delousing shampoo. Most of these shampoos usually come with usage instructions.
Step 3: Remove All Bedding And Clothes
Next, remove all bedding you have come into direct contact with and clean them in the washing machine. Do the same with clothes and objects like hats and scarves. Ensure to wash them in hot water to kill the lice. Finally, place other items you cannot wash, like headphones, in a garbage bag and get rid of them. Doing this will prevent reinfestation.
Step 4: Use A Comb To Remove The Nits
If the treatment does not remove the eggs and other lice attached to your hair strands, you can use a fine-toothed comb to remove them. Ensure to comb from the crown towards the end of the hair strands and cover the entire head. Doing this will quicken the treatment.
Repeat steps 1-4 over several days to ensure effective treatment.
How To Get Rid Of Lice On A Mattress
Even after successfully removing lice on your head and bedding, a reinfestation is imminent if they still exist on your bed. You can use chemicals and pesticides to eliminate lice on a mattress. However, experts do not recommend this, especially if the lice are on your mattress or bedding.
The chemicals could lead to other complications, like allergies and skin irritation. The best way to remove lice on a mattress is to strip them of their meal supply for a couple of days and wash the bedding. Additionally, you can use chemicals that are not harmful or toxic. Finally, vacuum the mattress to eliminate the lice bodies, blood, and other debris.
Note: Before embarking on a delousing process, it would help to consult an expert for tips. This way, you can rule out ineffective treatments, avoid allergies, and identify invisible lice. Make sure you also avoid contact with other people until you complete the treatment to prevent contamination.
How To Prevent Lice Infestation
After completing successful lice treatment, you should consider some preventative tips to prevent reinfestation. Below are a few tips you can use to prevent lice infestation.
- Wash your sheets and bedding weekly with hot water
- Avoid sharing hats, headphones, combs, or brushes
- Keep your upper body clothing and belongings away from shared areas, like closets.
- Avoid head-to-head contact with other people
Lice on a mattress can prevent you from enjoying your time on your bed. Sadly, with a constant meal source, the lice can live on your mattress for a long time in different cycles. That is, when the old ones die in a couple of weeks, newly hatched ones begin their life cycle, and this goes on until you complete a successful lice treatment. Luckily, you can get rid of lice and prevent future reinfestation with tips highlighted earlier.
Feruza is a mom and a blogger. She had a neck pain for 15 years, which made her interested in everything about pillows.
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