Bed bugs, if not treated properly, can wreak havoc in your home. Bed bug sprays have proven to be an effective way of controlling them, and, if appropriately used, can help in fighting and eradicating a bed bug infestation. But having lice can be a different type of nightmare, and you want a treatment that works quickly, so can bed bug spray kill lice?
Bed bug spray may be used to control lice, but it shouldn’t be completely relied on for a lice infestation. Most bed bug sprays contain pyrethrin, which can cause paralysis or death to lice. However, lice are persistent parasites and may develop resistance to pyrethrin, making sprays ineffective.
That said, eliminating lice from your home is not impossible. This article will give you a better understanding of lice, how they get transmitted, and how to fight a lice infestation through other methods. We’ll consider some popular bed bug sprays and investigate if they work against lice.
Where Do Lice Come From and How Do They Spread?
The simple answer is that lice come from other humans. Head lice are holoparasites or obligate parasites, and as such, will not survive off a host or surface for more than 24 hours. However, they require a human host to thrive and reproduce; this means you don’t get head lice from your dogs, cats, guinea pigs, etc.
As lice generally are host-specific, a dog louse thrives on a dog, and the same goes for human lice. They are mostly transmitted from humans to humans via head-to-head contact. So, lice can be transmitted when people or children come together in school, sit very close to others, or sleep in the same bed.
Lice can also be transmitted by sharing things like caps, hats, scarves, hair ties, brushes, and combs.
How Long Do Lice Live?
Head and body lice are similar in size and how they operate. Females are usually larger than males, but both can live up to 30 days on a host’s head.
Pubic lice are much broader than head and body lice. They also require blood to survive. Generally, adult lice have a short lifespan, especially if they are not on the host.
An adult louse needs to feed on blood several times a day to survive. If the louse can’t satisfy its parasitic lust for blood meals, it will die within 1 to 2 days off the host.
Will Hot Shot Bed Bug Spray Kill Lice?
Hot Shot Bed Bug Spray is a three-in-one flea, tick, and lice killer with odor neutralizer (aerosol). If used according to the product instructions, it may be effective in getting rid of lice.
The product may kill lice because it contains a small percentage of permethrin (0.5%), a highly repelling chemical that can kill lice and tiny insects. Also, there are many reviews about the product that suggest that it may be effective in killing lice.
However, Hot Shot Bed Bug Spray may not be completely effective for fighting lice, as revealed by some experts. According to them, these products do not fulfill their promise to kill bugs, and some of them are resistant to this type of treatment.
Does Raid Bed Bug Spray Kill Lice?
According to the manufacturers, Raid is a versatile product that can eliminate bedbugs, fleas, and lice. Raid Bed Bug Spray may kill lice because it contains permethrin and other related chemicals in some percentage.
Going by the manufacturer’s promise and the reviews of some of its past users, Raid Bed Bug Spray may be effective for live lice. It may also kill lice eggs as it contains cypermethrin and imiprothrin. It works best when used in direct contact with these parasites. You can use it as a spot treatment in cracks and crevices or as a surface spray over a large area.
However, it is not meant to be used directly on your body as it is extremely dangerous when absorbed through the skin. You should only apply it on surfaces of objects and spots in your home.
How to Use Bed Bug Sprays to Kill Lice
Regardless of the type of bed bug spray you use, you need to use it properly to target lice. Here are some tips to keep in mind when using bed bug spray for lice:
- Spray all suspected areas of the house, including baseboards and floorboards.
- Spray around the bed frame and parts of the bedding, including where your bed touches the floor.
- Avoid using it on mattresses or furniture surfaces where you’ll be sitting or laying unless the bed bug spray is labeled for that use. Launder them instead.
- Never apply bed bug spray on yourself. Use medication or other products designed for that purpose.
- Apply the product on all your door hinges, window blinds, and furniture, such as chairs and drawers.
- Depending on how large the infestation is, you may need to spray your house again after one or two weeks.
- Cover all food-processing surfaces and utensils during treatment or thoroughly washed before use. To avoid food poisoning, cover any leftover or exposed food. Vacate a room immediately after treating it with bed bug spray.
How to Recognize and Treat Lice Infestation
The most common symptom of every type of lice is itching. For head lice, you’ll feel something moving or tickling in the scalp of your head. Lice move quickly and can be difficult to see. However, shining a bright light or using a magnifying glass can help.
Head lice are mostly tan or grayish-white and will appear darker in people with dark hair. They are usually around the size of sesame seeds.
Body lice inflict sores on the body as a result of consistent scratching. Pubic lice cause itching in the genital region.
Look for nits (head lice eggs). They are tiny white or yellow eggs that stick like glue to the hair shaft. If you find it hard to remove the suspicious speck, it’s most likely a nit. If it brushes off easily, it’s probably dandruff or something else.
It is important to treat lice as soon as you discover it. Also, anybody in close proximity with the person infested with lice may be subjected to the same treatment.
Here are some steps to treat lice with over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medication:
- Apply pediculicide (lice medicine) according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If you have longer hair, using a second bottle may be necessary. Depending on the product, the medication may be left on the hair for longer.
- If you find live lice on your scalp 8 to 12 hours after treatment, you may need to speak with your healthcare provider before reapplying the product.
- Comb dead any nits and live lice on your hair shaft with the nit comb in your lice medicine package.
- To reduce the chances of self-reinfestation, check your hair regularly and comb it every 2 to 3 days with a nit comb after each treatment to remove nits and lice.
- You may need to reapply routinely about 7 to 9 days after the first treatment for some medications.
Do not use permethrin lotion or lice shampoo before using pediculicide. Also, avoid re-washing your hair one to two days after washing out the lice medicine.
Head lice can only survive for about two days after falling off their host. For lice that may have fallen off or crawled onto clothing or furniture, here are some extra measures you can take to avoid a re-infestation:
- Launder every form of clothing and other items used by the infested person during treatment. To kill all the lice, use the hot water high heat cycle, about 130 ℉ (54 ℃), and high heat drying cycle.
- Let hair items like combs and brushes sit in hot water for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Vacuum the floor and furniture thoroughly, with a focus on areas where the infested sleeps or sits.
Bed bug spray may be effective against lice depending on the ingredients of the products. Sprays that contain pyrethrin, cypermethrin, and imiprothrin may help when fighting a lice infestation on surfaces and crevices to some extent.
However, bed bug sprays are not meant to be used on the body as they can cause significant damage to the skin. Instead, use lice shampoo and over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medication to treat lice on your scalp.
To avoid a re-infestation, launder any clothing used during treatment, disinfect combs and brushes in hot water, and vacuum the floor and furniture.
- Good Housekeeping: Natural Remedies to Get Rid of Head Lice
- Healthline: How to Kill Head Lice
- CDC: Head Lice Treatment
- CDC: Prevention & Control
- Pest Kill: Bed Bug Products That Work: A Comprehensive Review of Raid Max Spray
- The New York Times: Defeating the Lice Without Emptying Your Wallet
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