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Does Lice Shampoo Kill Bed Bugs?

If bed bugs have gotten into your hair, you will do anything to get them out. 

Luckily, lice shampoo will kill bed bugs. However, it’s doubtful that bed bugs will live in your hair. So, if you have an itchy scalp and bites, you probably have lice. Yet, no matter which creature has called your head home, lice shampoo will kill them. 

Will Lice Shampoo Kill Bed Bugs?

A bottle of head lice shampoo, spray, lice comb, and towel on a white surface.

Yes, almost all lice shampoos will kill bed bugs. 

If you think you have bed bugs in your hair, though, you should talk to a pharmacist or your doctor about which lice shampoo to use. 

Why Does Lice Shampoo Kill Bed Bugs?

Most lice shampoos contain pyrethrins, which are the main chemicals people use to kill bed bugs. 

Pyrethrins kill bed bugs by causing their nerves to fire too fast, which leads to paralysis. 

Will Bed Bugs Live in a Person’s Hair?

It is highly unlikely for bed bugs to take up residence in a person’s hair. 

Bed bugs generally do not like to live on people. 

Instead, they prefer to reside in your mattress or the surrounding area, crawl out, feed, and go back into hiding. 

Are Bed Bugs or Lice Biting My Head?

A woman in white long sleeves stands against the pink wall, holding her hair.

Generally, if you have insect bites on your scalp, it is almost definitely lice. 

One reason they’re probably lice is that bed bugs rarely live on people unless their house has a large infestation. 

Additionally, bed bugs don’t usually like to bite areas of the body with a lot of hair. 

They prefer smooth skin, so there’s really no reason for a bed bug to enter your hair at all. 

Typically, the best way to tell if you have lice is to look for nits. 

Lice nits are small egg sacks that lice attach to hair strands. 

You can identify nits because they are tiny and white or light brown. 

They also aren’t too easy to pull from the hair strand because the lice have attached it there to keep it from falling off. 

Alternatively, you could have someone search through your hair to see if they can find any insects. 

If bed bugs are living in your hair, they should be relatively easy to spot because they are quite a bit larger than lice, about the size of an apple seed. 

On the other hand, lice are tiny and hard to pinpoint, so if the person sees nits and no bugs, you have lice. 

Either way, if you find a bug in your hair, you will know which insect is living there. 

Identifying Lice and Bed Bugs 

To determine which insect you have in your hair, you need to know the appearance of each. 

What Do Bed Bugs Look Like?

Bed bugs are small, almost circular-shaped insects. 

And most of the time, their bodies are pretty flat, but if they have just eaten, they could be more cylinder-shaped. 

Additionally, bed bugs are brown and usually have a darker spot on their abdomen where they store blood. 

What Do Lice Look Like?

Lice are only about half the size of bed bugs, about as big as a sesame seed. 

Most lice species are a light tan and can almost look transparent in some places. 

They also have pretty long bodies, and they don’t have the almost circular shape you typically see in bed bugs. 

How to Use Lice Shampoo 

Back shot of a woman shampooing her head.

Whether you have lice or bed bugs, lice shampoo will get rid of the insects. 

And luckily, lice shampoo is easy to use, as it’s pretty similar to how you would apply regular shampoo. 

To use lice shampoo for the best results, you need to: 

  1. Wet your hair and scalp 
  2. Apply a quarter-size dollop of shampoo to your hair
  3. Rub the shampoo over the entire surface of your scalp, making sure to focus on the roots
  4. Leave the shampoo on for at least 20 minutes 
  5. Rinse your hair with warm water 
  6. Check to make there is no more lice shampoo on your scalp 
  7. Brush every bit of your hair with a nit comb 
  8. Repeat this process every two days until the insects are gone

Also, you should keep in mind that lice shampoo can cause itchiness and a burning sensation if you get it in your eyes. 

Thus, it’s best if young children (under about 10) do not apply the lice shampoo to themselves. 

Instead, they should have an adult help them. 

Will Regular Shampoo Kill Bed Bugs?

Regular shampoo probably won’t kill bed bugs, but it will almost definitely get them off you. 

Bed bugs didn’t evolve to live in a person’s hair, like lice, so they can’t hang on when you shampoo your hair. 

Therefore, although regular shampoo won’t outright kill the bed bugs, it will most likely remove them from your hair. 

Are Lice or Bed Bugs Worse?

Close-up photo of head lice on a white background.

Honestly, it’s hard to say whether lice or bed bugs are worse. 

Both are parasites that feed on human blood and can make you itch pretty bad. 

They also both can cause the people who have to deal with them a lot of stress.

Thus, which is worse is really a matter of personal opinion. 

How Do I Get Bed Bugs Off My Clothes?

If you have bed bugs in your hair, you almost certainly have them on your clothes. 

In fact, bed bugs sometimes hide out in drawers and walk over, poop on, and lay eggs on or around clothes. 

Thankfully, though, getting bed bugs and their debris off clothes is pretty straightforward. 

To do this, you just need to wash and dry your clothes on the highest heat setting. 

Heat is one of the primary ways to kill bed bugs, and they can not live in the heat of the washer and dryer for more than 30 minutes. 

Just make sure you put the clothes in bags when transporting them so that you don’t cause an infestation in other places of your home or the laundromat. 

Can Bed Bugs Get on My Pets?

A pug sits on the bed, wrapped in a brown blanket.

If bed bugs are tormenting you and your family, it’s perfectly reasonable to start worrying about your pets. 

Generally, bed bugs will not live on your pets, just as they usually will not live on people. 

However, bed bugs can bite and feed on any warm-blooded creature. 

Thus, all mammals and birds in your home are at risk of bed bug bites. 

The animals that are most susceptible to bed bug bites are those that sleep in the bed with you. 

But, you can rest assured that cold-blooded animals, such as most reptiles and amphibians, will not get bed bug bites. 

Will Bed Bugs Lay Eggs on Me Like Lice?

Technically, a bed bug could lay its eggs on you, but it is very unlikely. 

Bed bugs much prefer to lay their eggs in stable places humans can’t access. 

Lice, on the other hand, live on hair, so they don’t want to leave a person’s head to lay their eggs. 

Therefore, overall, it would be pretty rare for a bed bug to lay eggs on you in the same way as lice. 


Lice shampoo will work to get rid of bed bugs. 

However, if you have an itchy scalp and feel insect movement in your hair, you almost certainly have lice, not bed bugs.