How Long Do Lice Live on Mattress?


Head lice can live on your bedding for about a day or two. To avoid prolonged issues, check and clean sheets and mattresses. Females and their eggs will die eventually if they cannot find a new host. Check all folds and corners on your bed linens where nymphs and nits can hide.

What do Lice Look Like?

Despite being small, lice and nits aren't to be taken lightly. They can crawl from one hair to another or from a personal hair brush to a new host. You can find them in various colors like white, brown, or dark gray. Nits or eggs usually stick to your hair shafts, while lice or nymphs crawl on your scalp or strands. Their six legs and tiny claws at the end are visible to the naked eye. Adult lice can grow as big as a sesame seed, wherein female head lice can be a bit fatter than males.

Where do lice come from in the first place?


Head lice might have been on the planet before civilization existed. Research says dried-up lice were found on the heads of Egyptian mummies. So let's scratch the picture of them falling from the air or jumping from the ground. It's essential to know the origin of what we're dealing with.

Ways Lice are Spread

Relax; lice aren't airborne. Children often catch them through direct head-to-head contact while playing outdoors. Adults can also get them by sharing clothes or close contact, such as sexual intercourse. Anyone who has had hair-to-hair contact with an infested person is at risk of having them.

Life Cycle of the Lice

Like human beings, these human head parasites also follow a life cycle. Female head lice lay their eggs for about a week, becoming nymphs, and later, grow as big as other adult lice.

Nymphs or young lice can only survive for about a month if they have a regular food supply. "Food" means sucking blood from a human scalp. The lack of human blood will likely cause them to die within 24 hours.

You may wonder how they spread exponentially in such a short period. The female head lice can lay at least 4 to 8 eggs daily. In their entire life cycle, they can produce 100 eggs. Nits or eggs cling to hair for 4 to 10 days before hatching into a nymph.

Female lice only need about 9 to 12 days to mature, lay eggs, and continue their rapid reproduction cycle. Getting rid of lice in your home will be more challenging if they are not treated earlier.

Signs of Head Lice infestations

Is it dandruff or head lice? How do you distinguish the itch on your head?

Well, the tickling sensation of a tiny insect on your head can say it all. The itch from lice and their eggs can cause an allergic reaction and rash from scratching. You may feel irritable and unable to sleep as lice are more active in crawling a person's head in the dark. Sores may also spread on your neck and shoulders if the infestation is not treated.

How to get rid of lice?

You can try some natural remedies at home if you choose not to take medical treatments. However, their efficacy is not guaranteed or backed by science.

Essential Oils

Some studies show that natural and plant-based oils help kill lice by blocking air.  Tea tree oil has properties that combat the spread of lice. It is considered one of the most effective essential oils to prevent the spread of lice. Peppermint, anise oil, and lavender also contain lice reproduction.

Food-grade Diatomaceous Earth

These head parasites develop resistance to chemical products over time. Thus, going organic is a good alternative. You can have a teaspoon of diatomaceous earth in the morning and before sleeping. These insects are most likely to die after 12 hours of intake, depending on the severity of the spread.

Drastic Exposure To Temperature

High heat can toast these parasitic insects. Heating devices such as a hair iron or hair dryer can help remove head lice.

Care For Your Hair

Proper hygiene and hair care play a huge role in keeping head lice away. A fine-toothed comb on your wet hair can remove adult and lice eggs. Make sure to lubricate your hair with oil or conditioner, and start combing from the hair roots.

House Cleaning

Lice can survive without a host for 1 to 2 days. It is best recommended to clean areas of your house where nymphs can hide.

Wash Bedding

Remember to wash your mattresses and sheets regularly to avoid the spread of head lice. Remind each member of the family to observe personal hygiene and cleanliness.

How to Prevent Lice from Invading Your Home?

Sharing is caring, but not always, especially when someone in the household has lice. Be mindful of the things you touch and use when going outside. Who knows, a nymph or egg might be hiding on a gym apparatus, a comfy sofa in the library, or stuffed animals in a public shop. Launder your clothes with hot water to prevent outbreaks from persisting at home.

Proximity to other people

Avoid crowded areas as much as possible, as you may get lice. Keep a safe distance when socializing and be mindful of the things your body or your head touches. If you have long hair, tie it up to make it more difficult for lice to transfer to your hair strands.

Family size

Lice can easily thrive when more people are living under the same roof. It's hard to follow social distancing and avoid sharing clothes or a mattress in a big family. Reminding everyone to wash and clean shared items after use is a good idea.

Method of storing clothes

Have a designated area to hang or store your clothes after use. Don't toss them about to avoid the lice from spreading if your child is already infested.

Sharing bedding

Sharing bedding can spread head lice, as they can live without humans for about a day or two. They can crawl from one head to another to find a new host while sleeping. Wash and change your linens regularly.

Sharing hats, wigs, or other head coverings

Borrowing hats, wigs, or earplugs can cause the transfer of lice to your hair and scalp.

Do head lice carry or transmit any disease?

Some lice species are linked to the causes of typhus and recurring fever. But, there isn't enough evidence to prove that lice can transmit disease to their hosts.

How can I prevent an infestation?

Hair maintenance


Keeping your hair at a length that you can manage and care for is important. Use hair products such as shampoo, conditioner, and essential oils if necessary. Wash and dry your hair regularly and tie up your hair when in public to remove dirt and lessen the chances of attaining lice.

Don't share head coverings

Avoid sharing hats or caps, especially with strangers you know little about. Lice can stay on head coverings for two days.

Avoid trying on head coverings in shops

When buying head coverings, avoid using sample items directly on your head. Everyone has access to those display coverings, which gives open access to nits or nymphs to the cap.


Do I need to wash all bedding after the lice treatment?

Yes. Wash and clean your bedding after receiving your lice treatment to avoid re-infestation. Remember that a female adult can still lay eggs and stay alive without a human host for two days.

Can pets spread head lice?

No. Head lice only prefer a human host. Your dogs and cats are safe from the lice outbreak at home.

How long do I need to put items in the dryer to kill lice? 

15 to 30 minutes. Dry your infested items and clothes for at least this long to kill nits and lice that hide between folds. Always check your belongings first before putting them inside the tumble dryer.

Can head lice live on my child’s toys?

Yes. But only for a day or two. Head lice cannot live independently without a host to feed on. You can clean your child's toys, but no need to isolate them for weeks. Remember that lice can only live for a short period on their own.

Do I need to fumigate the house?

Not necessarily. Treating the house as you treat your family from lice can be tempting, but it is not necessary to fumigate all areas. Try to vacuum areas where the person has spent time.

They Can Hide On Your Mattress

Lice infestation can be a headache. They are small enough to sneak into the folds and corners of your mattress, so make sure to wash them regularly. Check every possible infested area after getting your affected family member treated.

Be cautious of your child's head-scratching, which can cause allergies and infection. The rapid reproduction of nits and lice may cause panic and irritability. But remember that treating the problem correctly can save you from more troubles and expenses.

Consider consulting a dermatologist if none of these home remedies work. You may be dealing with chemical-resistant lice. It is best to have your family examined by a professional.