Updated on July 24, 2020
You have been playing on the bed with your family. Your little one is having so much fun, but wait a minute, what is that bug that you see on his head? Does your child have head lice? Did he get lice from the bedding? Now what do you do with the sheets?
What Are Head Lice?
Head lice are parasites that affix themselves to human hair in order to feed from blood on the scalp. They are 2–3 mm long, about the size of a sesame seed, at their maturity. Lice (singular is louse) are brown in color, have 6 legs, and no wings. Head lice attach to the hair on the head near the base of the hair shaft and lay eggs near the scalp.
These annoying insects will not go away by themselves, in fact, they will get worse with time. Because they have no wings, lice move from head to head by crawling on their short legs. When they land on a head, the female begins laying eggs called nits. She lays 6-10 a day for a month and then she dies. By the end of the month, the average female louse has laid between 200 plus nits.
Nits are the size of a pinhead when first laid. Each nit will increase in size until it is the size of a sesame seed. A nit is oval and has an antenna protruding from the front. It has a hard, translucent shell which houses a nymph or baby louse. About 10 days after being left in the hair, the nit will crack open and the nymph will emerge. The nymph matures after another 7 to 10 days or so and it is at that point that the nymph is now a full-grown louse and is ready to start to deposit eggs. FAQs of Lice and Lice Removal
How Long Do Lice Live on Bedding?
The National Pediculosis Association, a head lice advocacy group in Cambridge, Massachusetts, website states: “Head lice can survive on a human host for approximately 30 days. They generally cannot survive longer than 24 hours off the host.” Source NPA Website
The reasons that lice cannot survive on your sheets or other bedding for more than a day are that there is no food for them there and the temperature is not conducive to their survival. Lice consume blood every 4 hours so they need to eat 6 times in 24 hours. Often, they load up on most of their food at night when it is dark and they are most active. Bedding is no comfort to parasites whose singular aim is survival. Add to the equation that lice crave the warmth of the head. They thrive when temperature is around 99 degrees. Temperature of bedding, furniture, and clothing is generally at room temperature and, therefore, is too cold for lice.
“Head lice are spread most commonly by direct head-to-head. Much less frequently they are spread by sharing clothing or belongings onto which lice have crawled or nits attached to shed hairs may have fallen. The risk of getting infested by a louse that has fallen onto a carpet or furniture is very small. Head lice survive less than 1–2 days if they fall off a person and cannot feed; nits cannot hatch …” Source: Center for Disease Control CDC Website
Baby Center, another website recommends: “Don't drive yourself crazy. As the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) puts it in a clinical report on head lice released in July 2010, ‘Herculean cleaning measures are not beneficial.’ So, while scrubbing the house from top to bottom and boiling the bedding may make you feel heroic, it won't help get rid of an infestation.” Source: BabyCenter.com
Head lice infestation, or pediculosis, is generally transmitted by close person-to-person contact. It is not likely that you will contract a case of head lice from sheets since the bugs will die relatively soon after landing on the sheets. In other words, the risk of contracting head lice from bedding or anything other than another person is very low.
How To Get Rid Of Lice On Bedding?
You may be wondering, what if there are lice on the bedding? What happens if I sit on the bed during the 24 hours that there might be lice on the sheets? What do I need to do if it is not necessary to kill lice on the bedding?
LiceDoctors has a definite solution to this problem and it is all about the HEAD. In order to get rid of head lice, you have to go to the source where these bugs live! Stick with us here and you will learn the secret of getting rid of lice in your home.
1. Oil the Head and Comb, Comb, Comb
The first step is to slow down those lice so that you can pull them out of the hair. If you leave the oil on long enough it will help to suffocate the bugs; a thick oil is the best way to kill lice at home. Best to add the oil, then take a high-quality lice comb and comb out the lice.
We like the Terminator Comb because it is made of stainless steel so it won’t break if you come upon a hair tangle or clump of nits. The comb’s laser technology fortifies the steel. The tines of the comb are close together and have micro-grooved teeth to help grab lice and nits.
It is best to divide the hair into sections about 1-2 inches wide when you comb to ensure that you get every strand of hair. The combing will remove lice, as well as a lot of nits, particularly the bigger ones. The smaller ones may slip through the teeth of the comb. It is imperative that you find any nits that the comb misses. (Hint: this is where you most need a lice professional!).
2. Wash and Dry the Hair and Then Start Nit Picking
This is where the value-added of a professional in-home lice removal service really shows up. As we have said, both lice and nits hide and camouflage in with the hair. Combine that challenge with the small size of both the nits and lice, and you have a difficult situation for a novice. If you want to know how to kill lice at home, bring in a specialist. LiceDoctors has the tools and experience that one gets after years in the field and will save you time and money advising you on what you do not have to do to the home.
You must wash out the oil thoroughly so that you can see and pull out the nits. You can use LiceDoctors Peppermint Lice Shampoo and LiceDoctors Peppermint Conditioner, which will cut through the oil and then leave your hair tangle-free so you can easily comb into sections with a regular comb and begin hand picking remaining nits.
To find nits that have remained stuck to the hair or have eluded the comb, you need to check methodically and carefully. You have to go through all the strands and focus closely near the scalp where some viable ones may remain. You want to have your child put her head down on her hands at a table so you can check the nape of the neck. You need to examine around the ears and at the front of the hair, as well as a general overall check.
When you find a nit during this step you must remove it. To do so, use a bright light and magnifying glasses and when you see a nit or feel a bump on the hair, squeeze it and pull down off the hair. There will be some resistance as the nit is cemented to the hair. After you have gotten it all the way down the hair, place the nit on a white background. It is there that you will be able to see the nit clearly and determine if, in fact, it is a nit. Remember, when extricated from the hair, and viewed in front of a white backdrop, like a paper towel, nits look brown.
3. Implement Lice After-Care Plan
To prevent lice from returning and to kill any remaining nits (when they hatch), you have to do a simple follow-up plan. When you treat someone’s head for lice, the nits that were most recently laid, are extremely tiny...the size of a dot left by a sharp pencil. Trying to find the most recent few may be impossible. Enter the LiceDoctors follow-up plan! This plan was developed and copyrighted by LiceDoctors’ medical director, Dr. Stephen Beck. The plan directs you to apply oil to the hair a few times over a couple of week period subsequent to your lice treatment. The oil is the perfect remedy to ensure that all lice are gone and that any lice on any surface in the home will not be able to get back into your hair and survive.
To Kill Lice in the Home, Start and End with the Hair
What about the bedding? You may be specifically concerned about the bed and want to know how to get rid of lice on the sheets. We will tell you what you can do, but you don’t have to do anything to put an end to your lice case, except me properly treated on your head. How is that possible you may be wondering? The reason for that is when it comes to a louse, it is the head, not the house! What that means is, as we explained, lice do not like to live off the head. If one or more lice find themselves on your sheets, you can bet that they will try to get back into your hair. After all, that is their only chance to survive. Remember, lice die within a day if they are not on a human head.
Here’s the deal, if that louse does not have access to a person, then it will die on the sheets or crawl off and die. If, however, you lie down in the bed the night of your LiceDoctors lice treatment, you WILL have oil in your hair.
As soon as the louse lands in your hair, it will start to die. By the morning any and all remaining lice will have died.
As long as you follow the LiceDoctors after care plan, you don’t need to do anything to get rid of lice in the bedding. The bugs will die whether you are in the bed that night or not. With regard to nits, they generally do not fall out of the hair because the glue is strong. If they do, they can not reattach to the hair so they are not a danger.
Will Bed Bug Spray or Other Pesticides Kill Lice in the Home?
You should NOT spray your home. First of all, sprays may be toxic. We do not recommend using these chemicals as they may have side effects. Second, it is overkill! Since lice will die within a day off the head, it is not likely that you will even have lice on your bed sheets or furniture. After you have been treated by LiceDoctors, the oil that you put in your hair that night will do the job of killing any lice that crawled out of your hair earlier, and then try to crawl back in.
A lice treatment service in Australia advises:
“Cleaning your house is NOT necessary. It adds nothing to your head lice treatment regime. In fact, you're just wasting your effort, your time and your money. If your children have head lice and you're running around like you've gone mad, trying to launder the sheets, vacuum the floors and clean your house, STOP now! They're called head lice for a reason and It's because they live on human heads. They don't live on floors, or on sheets or carpeting. If a louse did fall off a head, which is unlikely because its claws really can latch on, the louse would die quickly... In fact, a study by the Head Lice Research Group at James Cook University's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine located in Australia concluded that the chances were one in a thousand that a louse would end up in a pillow after an entire night's sleep. Put another way, you could sleep for almost 3 full years in the same bed before a live louse ended up on your pillow. you'd have to agree that those odds are small. And then, after about 12 hours and IF the louse somehow survived, it would have to muster up the strength to climb back on the head again. The chances of this type of reinfestation happening are there, but they're slight which is why you shouldn't knock yourself out trying to rid your home of lice.
The scientists from the above-mentioned study also conducted another study. This time it involved sweeping 100 classroom floors that had been occupied by children known to have current lice infestations. After testing the floor debris, they found not one louse! While one team looked more closely at the floors the other team examined the children's heads. That team found and removed over 7,000 lice from these heads. They identified 7,000+ lice on the heads yet they did not find even one on the floor. So stop trying to rid your floors of lice that aren't even there and instead put all that effort into dealing with your child's head. that's the winning solution!”
Source: Nitmix head lice treatment
Still Worried About How to Kill Lice on Bedding?
If you are thinking, “I get it. It is not likely that there will be lice in my bedding, and if there are, the oil will protect me, BUT I don’t want to take a chance.” We understand that. This is how to clean bedding from lice: simply take sheets, pillowcases, and the comforter and throw them in the washing machine and then the dryer. If you can’t wash the comforter or bed spread, set it aside or put it in a bag for one day. On the off chance that there are lice on the bedding, one day in a bag will kill the lice and that is how you get rid of any lice in the bedding. You may read intricate step by step cleaning protocols on the Internet like: How to Kill Lice on Bedding. We cannot emphasize enough how unnecessary these steps are. They will sap your energy and will NOT move you closer to lice eradication.
With respect to the furniture in the home, if you absolutely feel the need to do something, (although again, it is not necessary), then take a lint brush and wipe off the sofa and chairs. Heavy cleaning, vacuuming, bagging clothes and stuffed animals, toys, and clothes for 2 weeks is a waste of time. See our blog How to Get Rid of Lice in My House for more information.
It is the Head, Not the Bed, to Get rid of Lice
The bottom line is that the risk to your family of being infected or re-infected with lice from the furniture, bed, clothes, etc. is exceedingly low. And since LiceDoctors has a follow-up protocol, in the unlikely event that this were to happen, our follow-up protocol will take care of you. If you find a lice service that tells you that they will come and spray and clean your house and bedding, run for the hills! We have been out in the field treating lice for two decades and have treated over 500,000 clients. It is the head, not the bed that matters when eliminating head lice and nits!
The National Pediculosis Association in Newton, Massachusetts corroborates this:
“Head lice are human parasites and require human blood to survive. They are not environmental pests so pesticidal sprays for furniture and bedding are unnecessary and a serious risk to health...Experts used to suggest bagging items such as stuffed animals for a number of weeks to help bring infestations under control. Since lice cannot survive without human blood, this is unnecessary; ...You can also put bed linens, stuffed animals and other items in a dryer for 30 minutes.”
Soure: NPA Website
LiceDoctors In-Home Lice Treatment Service Will Help You
Once LiceDoctors treats you, your lice infestation will be behind you, so you won’t need to worry at all about the bedding or anything else in your house! Your technician will treat the head and that stops lice in their tracks!
LiceDoctors is the most experienced and cost-effective lice removal service in the area; LiceDoctors operates under the guidance of a board-certified, on-staff medical doctor and we back our service with a full guarantee!
Your experienced lice technician will provide you with complete and private care in the convenience and comfort of your own home. And LiceDoctors prices are lower than salon prices! We accept FSA and HSA cards, and some insurance plans will cover treatment. Put an end to your lice infestation today by calling LiceDoctors at 800-224-2537. Service is available day or night every day of the year.