Can Dog Fleas Live in Human Hair? Treatment and Prevention


It’s a quiet afternoon when you notice suddenly that your dog is itching and scratching quite aggressively. You also suddenly take notice that he has been doing that all-day-long. 

Oh, no. Fleas. Those annoying little bastards. But wait, your dog has been around you all day, which means they could have also gotten to you. 

This probably means they have gotten to you, but can they stay in your hair? 

Can dog fleas live in human hair?  No, dog fleas can’t live in human hair permanently but they can reach you easily when you stay close to your pet because they can jump horizontally up to 19 inches (50cm) and vertically up to 7.9 inches (20 cm).

With that being said, fleas are not big fans of human hair because it’s too light for their liking and they can’t really reproduce as well there, so it doesn’t make for a good permanent residence there.

So while fleas can get to your head from your dog, they won’t stay there forever. However, they can still bite you and transmit diseases, so it’s very important that you know how to handle the situation and get rid of them. 

Keep reading to find out how to get rid of them quickly.

Golden Retriever peeking

Why Fleas are a serious problem for everyone 

an image of a flea with its long legs to illustrate how can dog fleas live in human hair

Fleas are the worst, literally and figuratively. One flea is enough to start an infestation in your home. A single flea can lay 30 eggs every single day, so you can imagine how in a couple of days or a week this one flea will turn into more than a hundred fleas which can then multiply to thousands within days. 

Fleas are also really dangerous. We all know that the black plague was the most terrible epidemic to hit humans in their history, and most of us know that rats were the problem. While rats were indeed the problem, they were not the main problem

The main problem was fleas which used rats as hosts to move around the world while the fleas themselves carried the pathogen that caused the plague. 

This is still true today. Fleas carry all kinds of pathogens (germs, viruses, or bacteria) that can cause very serious diseases and illnesses. In fact, a man in Oregon got the black plague in 2014 when he was bitten by a mouse flea while he was trying to free the mouse from the jaws of a stray cat.

How Can You Get Fleas from Your Dog (or cat)? 

You can get fleas when you stay close to an infested pet or an infested area – such as a carpet or a bed that your dog was laying on earlier. 

Fleas are very tiny creatures but they can jump impressive distances. For example, an adult cat flea will be less than 1/8th of an inch in length and can jump to 160 times their length, which is both crazy impressive and horrifying. 

Because they can jump such great distances, they can easily jump from our pets to us when we are staying close to them. Not to mention that dogs and cats actively dislodge them and throw them away with their paws while itching which can also cause them to fly large distances and end up on your body. 

Thankfully, because they can’t jump very high up and because we are much taller than our dogs and cats, fleas often end up on our legs, which is why most flea bites are found around the ankle area and down. It’s very unlikely for fleas that end up on your ankle to climb up all the way to your head, and almost impossible for this happen without you feeling its movement. 

But it’s important to note that fleas can indeed climb upwards quite easily. The reason they prefer not to climb your body up to your hair is that we have very little bodily hair that it doesn’t provide good cover on them. 

What happens when a flea lands on you? 

When a flea lands on you, they will bite and get off as soon as possible. They know your body doesn’t provide enough cover and your blood isn’t as nutritious to them as the blood of their other hosts – such as dogs and cats – so they will try to find a better host quickly. 

Can Fleas Stay in your hair? 

Fleas can’t stay in human hair for long because it’s not the best habitat for them. Fleas need thick hair cover to hide away from the world, and they prefer the dark and damp environment inside mammals with thicker hair. 

There are over 2,000 species of fleas, and they have all developed to live alongside these mammals and not humans. The human blood is just enough for them to survive on but not nutritious enough for them to reproduce, and fleas love to reproduce very quickly. They simply can’t do that on humans. 

There is one exception to this, the human flea – also known as the chigoe flea which can reproduce in humans and live for long, but as mentioned before, it’s quite a rare breed of fleas and they don’t like our urban areas very much. Instead, they are found in more tropical areas where humidity is much higher and they can find hosts quickly. 

In short; humans are a poor host for fleas, so they will always try to find a better host, which they can find very easily most of the time. 

But this makes us ask another question; can they reproduce in this very short amount they are on us? Can they leave eggs in our hair before jumping off? 

Can Fleas Lay Eggs in your hair? 

No, fleas can’t lay eggs in human hair because human blood is not nutritious enough for fleas to make them fertile enough to produce. Even the human flea will not leave eggs on your head, but they can reproduce on us. 

Unfortunately, they also do it in a very terrifying way. The human flea is actually very tiny that it can get under your skin and leave its eggs there. 

Can dog fleas bite humans?

Yes, fleas that usually live on dogs or cats will bite humans, and it’s more common than you think. Why? Because they are hungry and need food, and humans have blood at the end of the day. 

Think of it like that; if you’re very hungry and you come across a bag of Doritos, you will still eat it even though you know it’s empty calories and hold very little nutritional value (and you may not even like it). You are not going to stay around for a pizza, you will just eat to stop the hunger and, you know, survive, then think about getting a better and more nutritional meal later. 

What Happens if a flea Bites You? 

Fleas will bite you. Once they land on a human, fleas will bite you 2 or 3 times on average before they leave your body. They can even suck on your blood for 7 minutes straight if left undisturbed. 

Once bitten, your skin will get very itchy around each bite and you will feel pain in these areas. These areas may also become sore and you may develop a rash near the bite. 

Flea bites can also trigger allergic reactions in some people but they are unlikely to cause problems that are more serious than that unless they have been carrying a pathogen that’s dangerous to humans. 

Below is an image of what flea bites look like on humans:

An image of flea bites on humans

You should not scratch the area of the bite at all because you can increase the risk of bacterial infections by scratching. 

What to do when a flea bites you? 

If you have been bitten by a flea, here is what to do: 

  1. Wash it with antiseptic soap to reduce the risk of infection
  2. Frequently apply an icepack to relieve the swelling 
  3. Use calamine lotion or anesthetic cream to stop the itching 
  4. Ask your pharmacist for an appropriate treatment for the swelling – they will recommend a good antihistamine medication 
  5. If you show any serious symptoms, rush to the doctor to be inspected for a secondary infection 
  6. Seek treatment for possible tapeworm infections because fleas are commons transmitters of it. 

And always remember to resist the urge to scratch it at all costs. 

Signs You (or your pet) May Have a Flea Problem 

Is this itch natural or is it because of fleas? Do I have an allergic reaction to something I touched or is this an allergic reaction to a flea bite? 

Sometimes it can be tricky, to tell you the truth, and while it later looks very easy to find the right answers, at the time, things are not always clear-cut. 

So, how to know you may have fleas? 

  • An extreme urge to itch 
  • A swollen weal that develops within 30 minutes of the bite 
  • Red weals and bumps indicate a flea bite if they last for 2-3 days. 
  • Feeling like something is constantly crawling on your skin
  • If you become hypersensitive to the bite and the surrounding area. 
  • Excessive shedding can be caused by fleas 

As for the last one, fleas can cause excessive shedding indeed, you can learn how and the 17 ways to fight the shedding here

Some people here will wonder if it makes any difference what type of flea they’re dealing with, and it doesn’t. The type of flea is not important because you can’t tell them apart unless with a microscope, and you probably don’t have one in the house. Just know they’re all terrible and that a flea infestation is a problem that you need to fight the moment you take notice of it. 

So, how can you fight fleas? 

How to Fight Fleas?

You can successfully fight fleas in your pet and your house if you’re vigilant enough about it. Keep in mind that fleas can survive for weeks without a host, so they can still be laying around the house for weeks and you need to keep your cleaning routine very thorough. 

How to get rid of fleas in dogs? 

You can get rid of fleas in dogs by following these steps: 

1. Give them a warm bath 

Give them a bath with warm water and mild soap. Water and soap can wash the fleas off your pet. Make sure to be thorough and to wear long-sleeved shirts and gloves to protect yourself from them if they decide to jump ship when they feel the danger. 

2. Use a flea shampoo 

Flea shampoos can kill fleas and actually stunt their growth. I like the Adams Plus flea shampoo because not only can it kill fleas and ticks, but it can also stunt their growth which is not something a lot of other shampoos can do. It’s also very safe and has not caused any allergic reactions in my dogs since I started using it.

You can check its price on Amazon here. 

Hunt the fleas with a flea comb and kill them

Flea combs have very fine teeth that allow your pet’s fur to pass through but not the fleas, allowing them to trap the fleas between their teeth. Once you remove a flea, on the comb, you should have a bowl of hot, soapy water by you, and you should simply dunk the comb in there. 

A common mistake people make is trying to crush the fleas. Those little buggers are very fast and they will jump away in a part of a second, making it very difficult to crush them by hand. Simply dunk them into the hot soapy water and they will die quickly.

Of course, fighting fleas is a large and important part of being a pet parent, so it deserves its own article, and I’m going to link it here as soon as possible. 

If you’re looking for a good flea comb, I use the one from Safari which is both super affordable and very effective. Check it on Amazon here. 

How to get rid of fleas in your house? 

You can get rid of fleas yourself in your house with a vigorous cleaning routine. Here are some really useful suggestions: 

  • Thoroughly and regularly clean animal bedding
  • Vacuum the carpets and animal bedding and throw away the vacuum cleaner bag or use a surface spray into the bag
  • Use a ‘flea bomb’ in your house and follow the directions carefully. 
  • Treat outdoor areas frequently used by your pet using insecticides. 
  • While cleaning, always wear gloves and long-sleeved protective clothing 
  • Repeat the whole cleaning process once or twice to get rid of flea eggs 

If the infestation is persistent and doesn’t go away for a month or two even with the thorough cleaning routine, you should hire a qualified pest control service to handle it. They will be able to assess the severity of the situation and how to handle it correctly and will help you take steps to prevent another infestation. 

How to Prevent Fleas in 3 steps? 

There are mainly three things you should do to fight off fleas and prevent them from infesting your dog or your house. 

1. Regularly check your dog for fleas

Once a week at least comb your dog with a flea comb and see if you can find any. You can also check your dog’s coat in the sun but this is much less effective even though some dogs will tolerate this more easily. 

If something comes out in the comb and you’re not sure whether that’s fleas, flea poop, or just dirt. Here is a simple test; try crushing it with a tissue, a white paper, or anything that’s light-colored really. 

If there’s red in the crushed thing, it’s either a flea or flea poop, both of which means that your dog has fleas. It could be dark brown with reddish streaks or it could be a reddish black, just take red as a warning sign and deal with it as if your dog has fleas instead of waiting for them to multiply into hundreds. 

2. Use a flea collar 

Flea collars can be quite useful in fighting off fleas. I used the one from Adams Plus and really liked it. It provided protection for months and it should provide protection for up to 7 months, which is great. 

The large size is actually good for large dogs like golden retrievers and it’s not too tight for them. Check its price on Amazon here. I have also heard some really good stuff about the PetArmor Plus collar, you can check this one on Amazon here as well. 

3. Keep thorough cleaning and grooming routines. 

Keeping regular grooming and cleaning routines in your life can go a very long way in preventing fleas and ticks from getting to your dog, your house, and yourself. Simple things like a daily brushing session and frequent baths can be your most effective methods in fighting off fleas infestations. 

Sources

Oregon man recovering from rare case of plague – The Guardian

Fleas – Better Health Channel

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