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Does Cold Kill Head Lice?

Does Cold Kill Head Lice?
Created on 
December 26, 2017
Updated on 
February 13, 2023

Every year, right after the chill sets in the air, after parents have sent their children back to school, many people assume that lice infestations will not be a problem. It is a common myth that lice will die off in the cold months. Lice do not die off in the cold months because they live in a warm environment that stays 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit - the human head.

Can Head Lice Live in Cold Weather?

When considering the subject of lice in cold weather, it's important to know the facts. Sorry to say, cold weather has no effect on head lice. The basic principle behind this is that lice live on the human head, and no matter what the temperature is outside, the temperature of the human head will remain constant 98.6 degrees.

What Cold Temperature Kills Lice?

We know from another blog about how to kill lice using heat, that temperatures over 130°F can kill lice in 5 minutes. But what temperature kills lice on the other end of the spectrum? Does the cold kill lice? Sustained freezing temperatures can kill head lice and their eggs. Temperature of 0°F or lower will kill lice within a few hours. This temperature is conveniently that of the average household food storage freezer. But when wondering can lice freeze to death, remember that head lice can't survive any temperature without a host and the temperature of a living host will never be 0°F.


Do lice die in the cold? It's true that lice do not like to leave the nice warm head hair, especially when the cold temperature of the home is less inviting. Can lice survive cold weather off a head? A louse will die if out in the cold for just 24 hours, not from freezing, but from starvation. It is safe to say that when it comes to being outside, the chances of that louse surviving by finding a new host to feed on human blood is a non-reality. For a louse to make it to the host, a human head hair needs to make direct contact with that bug within a few hours….and what are the realistic chances of that happening?

How to Kill Lice With Extreme Cold?

lice season

Do lice survive in cold weather when it's extreme? Extreme cold weather under 0°F will kill lice faster. But there are other ways to kill lice with cold.


Extreme cold temperatures, like the average household freezer or deep freeze, will kill lice. This extreme cold will freeze the natural liquid that exists in lice, killing them. How long in the freezer to kill lice? It does not take long to kill lice and remaining nits by way of freezing due to their small size - about the size of a sesame seed, but remember the bugs and nits must be off the head to be in an environment that would freeze them.

When dealing with a lice infestation, after a thorough comb-out lice treatment, hair brushes, nit combs, small stuffed animals, and other hair accessories can be placed in a plastic bag and in the freezer. Any lice eggs or a bug on these items that may still be alive will be killed in the freezing temperatures. Keep in mind that the bugs will not survive anyway, if separated from their host for a day.


We know already that hot water kills lice. But when it comes to water, can cold kill lice? Cold water does not kill head lice and nits, because it's above freezing. If cold water is dumped on the head, the lice will only cozy up closer to the scalp, hanging on tightly with their legs. If a louse somehow makes it into cold water, it may slow down some, but will die as a result of being removed from its host.


Does cold weather kill lice in your vehicle, and how cold does it have to be to kill lice? Lice in a car can survive in temperatures down to 0°F, but will still starve within a day or so anyway. Car seats, that an infested person has used, that need to be used again the same day can be made lice free easily with a lint roller.

Is Lice More Common in Winter or Summer?

Can you get lice in the winter? Head lice themselves are unaffected by weather since they're always snuggled right up to the human body. But many regions observe a lice season, and head lice generally does spread faster in summer months. This isn't because of head lice in winter behave differently, it's because children behave differently. In cold months, kids wear hats, reducing head-to-head contact. In warm weather, kids play sports outdoors, increasing head-to-head contact. Since a louse can't jump or fly, head-to-head contact rates directly affect the spread of lice in classrooms and between each family members.

How to Prevent Lice in Winter?

Since lice are active year-round, parents wonder how to deter lice? Preventing head lice in the winter is much the same as preventing head lice during warmer times of the year or in warmer climates. The best defense against head lice is avoiding direct head-to-head contact. Since that is difficult to control with young children you will need some strategies to keep the hair less accessible to the bugs. In addition, since these parasites may occasionally be transmitted less directly via shared clothing, like beanies and scarves, we recommend not sharing such items. 

How to Treat Lice in Winter?

what temperature kills lice

Winter lice is the same as it is during warmer months, so the treatment is the same. There are many options available to parents, with varying degrees of effectiveness, such as:

  • Over the counter products like pesticide treatments.
  • All natural killing agent or herbal remedy.
  • Cleaning, laundering, or spraying everything and putting belongings in plastic bags.
  • Prescription pesticide treatments.
  • Professional services, many of which only require a single visit.

We do not recommend most of the above options for lice treatment as they are often ineffective, may leave behind lice and nits, may not be completely safe, and carry the risk of side effects. 

By far, the most effective solution for lice treatment is head lice removal, to ensure everything is removed from the hair, including all of the lice eggs (called nits) and bugs. For any of the treatment options above, the removal of nits is not an optional part of lice treatment. Removal of lice and nits must include both combing with a quality, fine-tooth nit comb, as well as handpicking.


Head lice survive on human heads only, as they need to feed by biting the human scalp several times a day. Asking can lice live in cold weather is like asking can humans live in cold weather. When off the scalp, adult lice and nits (eggs) will not survive, regardless of warm, cold, or other weather.

If you see your child scratching or other signs of an infestation, don't waste time asking can you get lice in winter. Grab a bright light and do a head check for translucent eggs in the hair. Any lice and nits at all warrant immediate lice treatment.

We are experts at lice treatment and removing lice and nits. We aim for comfort, privacy, and convenience; we make house calls to do head lice and nit removal from all infested family members who have head lice, in winter months as well as summer months. If you need help treating head lice, call LiceDoctors to book an appointment for affordable, quality head lice treatment and lice removal you can trust backed by our 30-day guarantee!



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