Bugs in Hair But Not Lice

Sometimes the human hair may become home for the Bugs. The infested person feels itching and other unpleasant sensations on the scalp. Furthermore, the hair condition may get worse. The most common parasite that causes these problems is lice. However, other insects can also be found in the hair. Learn more about possible parasites, signs of their presence, treatment and prevention options.

What are Head Lice

Head lice are small insects that live on blood. They are grayish or tan with a size not larger than a strawberry seed. The females produce eggs and a sticky substance that attaches them to hair near the scalp. Therefore, the infested person may observe living lice or eggs that are called nits.

How they infest human hair

These insects can only crawl and they are not able to jump or fly. That is why they spread by direct contact, especially between family members or among children in schools and kindergartens.
In addition, some personal items may also carry lice and spread them, namely:

  • brushes;
  • scarves and hats;
  • accessories for hair;
  • headphones;
  • towels and bed linen;
  • clothes.

It’s worth mentioning that household pets do not spread head lice.

Common Scalp Bugs that Aren’t Lice

When the head scalp is itching, the problem may be not only head lice. Other parasites can also attack humans and cause similar symptoms.

Head mites

These Bugs in Hair are quite common and very tiny. One cannot see them with the naked eye. A head mite has eight legs and prefers to live in Hair follicles and oil glands. These insects remove dead skin cells and usually do not bring any harm. However, if their amount grows, an infection may occur and cause irritation.

Scalp mites

This type is similar to the previous one but these insects mainly affect the scalp. When their population is too large, the scalp gets inflamed, red and itchy. However, one cannot find the parasites and see them. Thus, the proper diagnostics is required.


A tick is a parasitic arachnid that is from 3 to 5 mm in length. This parasite is external and lives by feeding on the blood. For this, a tick needs to get under the skin of the host. Such a situation may happen on the scalp too.


These tiny wingless bugs are black or brown and can be seen on the hair if they are present. But they are very quick and more common for pets than for humans. They don’t leave eggs in the hair of humans and a hot shower with soap is usually enough to get rid of them. Still, they can bite the scalp causing itching sensation, bumps and blisters.

Bed bugs

These tiny, red and flat bugs do not have wings and prefer to live in the furniture and mattresses. They cannot survive in the hair and always try to hide from heat and light. A hot shower washes them from the head if they happen to get there.

Carpet beetles

According to the name of this species, it prefers to live in carpets and other home items that contain keratin. They survive on this compound and can digest it. Human hair also contains keratin but it is not a very good environment for these parasites so they are rarely found in it.

Spider beetles

These small insects are from 2 to 5 mm with oval or cylindrical shape. With their six legs and long antennas, they look like spiders and can be of different colors. They may infest houses, as they prefer to eat grains and similar products. Thus, in the human hair, they can happen by mistake, as they cannot survive in this environment.

Symptoms and Signs

How to understand that something goes wrong? Sometimes you can see the parasites with the naked eye but not always. The following symptoms are the most common.

Bites vs itching

Almost every parasite or insect that happens to live on the scalp bites the skin. Some of them do this to drink blood, others to feed on the skin cells. Anyway, biting causes an itching sensation and may further lead to the inflammation of the skin and sores.


The infected skin may also react with a rash. It appears under the hair and can be more visible near the neck and ears.

Behavior changes in pets

The infested pets start to behave differently. They can become both more active and passive, they also scratch and can lose their appetite.

Seeing bugs fall off scalp

If the parasites are large enough, they can be seen directly in the hair or on the scalp, or they can fall and become visible on the clothing. This happens mostly with beetles, fleas and other species that are not designed to live on the scalp.

Where Else They Are Found

If you are worried about possible infestation, keep in mind the most common ways of getting parasites and their sources.

Pets and family members

Head lice easily spread among the family members. It is enough that one child brings them from kindergarten or school, to infest the whole family in a short period. This happens due to the close contact.

The same situation may happen with pets. But usually pets and humans are infested by different species and they are not dangerous for each other.

Furniture and bedding

Bed bugs and carpet beetles may be living in the furniture, clothes and different household items. That is the reason to clean the house or flat regularly and avoid infestations.


Ticks and different beetles live outdoors and can be brought home easily. This is true for both family members and pets. That is why all of us require special protection and regular hygienic procedures.

Prevention Tips

Before we move on to the treatment of the scalp parasites, let’s discuss a few useful details on their prevention.

Regular grooming

If you have a pet, do not neglect regular grooming and washing it. The fur can easily become home for different parasites that are not visible but provoke a lot of problems for the pet.

Keeping scalp clean

As well as a pet should have clean fur, people should regularly wash hair and keep it clean. If there is no water available, dry shampoos can solve the problem. In any case, a clean scalp is one of the best solutions to prevent any infestations.

Not sharing brushes and headgear

As we have already mentioned, head lice are spreading through direct contact. They slowly crawl around and can travel on various personal items. That is the reason why the basic hygiene rules require each person to have his or her own brush or comb and other headgear.

Checking pets and environment

Build a habit of checking the environment at home and pets for the presence of parasites regularly, for example, once per month. The pets are better checked by the vet. As for the house, the accurate cleaning easily reveals insects if they are present.

Treatment Options

Last but not least goes treatment. Parasitic insects are not going to leave our heads or houses on their own, so medical help is required.

Oral and spot medications

Stromectol is an oral dosage form that is prescribed to treat head lice when other measures are not effective. The pills are taken in two doses, eight days apart.

Medicated shampoos

Special shampoos for the treatment contain permethrin. This compound is toxic to head lice and helps to kill them effectively. In addition, a lotion containing ivermectin can be added to the scheme. It does not require a prescription.

Topical insecticides

Topical products that are often prescribed to treat this condition are malathion and spinosad. They are applied to dry hair and rubbed into the scalp. These products are not applicable for children younger than 4 years and during the pregnancy and breastfeeding period.


Altogether, quite a wide variety of bugs may be found in the human hair. Many of them are not dangerous but still can bring unpleasant sensations and decrease the quality of life. Follow the basic hygiene rules and do not hesitate to consult the specialist at once if something feels wrong. Modern treatment options will help to solve the problem quickly.


What can be mistaken for head lice?

Other bugs that can be mistaken include fleas, ants and bed bugs. As for lice nits, they can be mistaken for dandruff, hair products and dirt.

What bugs is crawling in my hair?

This may be a head louse, flea, ant or some other bug or beetle. If you can take it out and bring to the specialist, then the doctor will determine the species.

What is the very tiny bugs in my hair?

One of the smallest is head lice. However, you need to consult a specialist to determine the Bugs correctly.

What are the harmless bugs that look like lice?

Other small and dark-colored insects include fleas and bed bugs. Booklice are also similar in appearance.