The idea cockroaches could feast on your hair is an unpleasant prospect. Unfortunately, when it comes to cockroaches and food, not much is off-limits, including the consumption of human hair.
Cockroaches have been known to eat hair. While human hair isn’t their preferred food source, roaches will eat almost anything. Hair contains lipids and sebum, which can sustain cockroaches for a short while. Roaches are most likely to eat hair at night under the safety of darkness. Roaches are unlikely to live or lay eggs in the hair.
Thankfully, it’s rare for cockroaches to be in your hair while you’re awake. If you’re worried about roaches eating your hair, there are measures that you can take to keep them away, especially while you’re sleeping.
- 1 Do Cockroaches Eat Human Hair?
- 2 Do Cockroaches Like Hair?
- 3 Can You Get Cockroaches In Your Hair?
- 4 Can Cockroaches Lay Eggs In Your Hair?
- 5 How To Stop Cockroaches Eating Hair
- 6 Do Cockroaches Cause Hair Loss?
Do Cockroaches Eat Human Hair?
Cockroaches eat almost anything. While they prefer dying and decaying matter, they’ll eat hair if it’s the only food source available. Cockroaches are also opportunistic, eating anything that they can easily get hold of.
Hair roots have sebaceous glands, which secrete sebum. This is a fatty substance that’s responsible for making the hair oily and greasy.
The Journal of Investigative Dermatology explains how hair also contains lipids, otherwise known as fat, which many roaches are attracted to. Cockroaches love oily hair that’s been unwashed for a long period of time.
While these lipids are only a small part of hair composition, they’re enough to sustain cockroaches, at least until they find a more substantial food source. Cockroaches require starch and sugar to survive, which hair lacks, so it’s only a short-term feeding solution.
Similarly, when starving, cockroaches consume each other, becoming cannibalistic and feasting on weaker roaches for their nutrients. Therefore, smaller, younger cockroaches that are competing for food with larger roaches will consume hair for their survival.
However, roaches will only risk weakening their colony if they have to, so they will eat hair first before cannibalizing other roaches.
If you’re wondering how cockroaches eat hair, they use their sharp, strong mandibles to chew through each strand. Healthy hair is tough and hard to break, but it doesn’t take long for roaches to bite through it.
Do Cockroaches Like Hair?
While hair isn’t a cockroach’s favorite thing to eat, they prefer it over certain foods, like paint and mold. Roaches are omnivorous, so they’re happy to eat both animal and plant-based substances. Depending on how hungry and desperate for food they are, hair is sufficient.
That being said, roaches are far from picky eaters and won’t turn their noses up at hair. Roaches are notorious for eating anything that derives from a living organism, whether dead or alive. However, before hair becomes a viable food option, cockroaches prefer to eat:
- Decaying fruit and vegetables
- Greasy food
- Pet food, including biscuits
- Starch-based items, including soap and books
Unfortunately, unless your house is completely empty, cockroaches will still find things to eat. Even then, they can feast off paint and wallpaper paste, as described by the International Journal of Scientific Research.
Can You Get Cockroaches In Your Hair?
Unnervingly, the American cockroach has been known to feed on hair, eyelashes, and eyebrows of sleeping children. While this is rare, cockroaches in severely infested homes who are competing for food are more likely to go to extreme measures to find sustenance.
Similarly, cockroach infestations are common in urban environments and become uncontrollable in large apartment blocks with adjoining rooms. As a result, they can get into your hair while you’re sleeping and roam from apartment to apartment, looking for food.
However, if cockroaches were to feast on your hair, they’d do it at night under the protection of darkness. When you wake up, you may find a hungry roach in your hair. Though, rest assured that the roach will be just as scared of you as you it, so it will likely try and make itself scarce before you realize it’s there.
Can Cockroaches Lay Eggs In Your Hair?
Cockroaches can lay eggs in human hair, but it’s unlikely. You’d need a severe infestation for this to happen, but most people would feel even the smallest roach scuttling through their hair and would remove it before it had the chance to lay its eggs.
Similarly, humans pose a threat to cockroaches, so they know better than to get too close. Hair isn’t the right structure for cockroaches to lay their eggs. While curly hair is slightly more suitable, hair is too smooth for the eggs to stick. Similarly, hair doesn’t offer the dark, warm, dry conditions that cockroaches prefer to raise their eggs in.
If you notice small, white eggs in your hair, they’re far more likely to be head lice eggs (nits). However, if you discover your hair is infested with cockroach eggs, give it a thorough wash with shampoo, then repeat. The eggs should wash out of your hair.
How To Stop Cockroaches Eating Hair
If you notice cockroaches chewing away on your hair, you’ll understandably want to put a stop to it. While you’ll need to eradicate the infestation, there are things you can do to keep cockroaches away from your hair in the meantime. This includes:
As we’ve already mentioned, regular hair washing removes existing cockroaches and eggs. However, as cockroaches prefer greasy hair, keeping it clean and oil-free also deters roaches from eating it, as there’s not enough sebum for them to feast on.
Wherever possible, use scented shampoos – the more intense, the better. Cockroaches won’t go near your hair if it’s perfumed. They won’t eat it, either, forcing roaches to look for other food sources to survive.
Bear in mind that cockroaches eat starch-based items, like soap. So, when washing your hair, ensure you’re using a starch-free shampoo and conditioner and ditch the soap until your infestation is dealt with.
Wear A Hair Covering
Until you’ve got your cockroach infestation under control, protect your hair while you sleep with a microfiber towel or plastic hair net. While cockroaches may chew through these materials to get to your hair, they’re more likely to find food from an easier source.
When putting on your hair covering, make sure it’s on tight with no visible gaps that a roach could crawl into. Similarly, keep all hair tucked into the covering to prevent cockroaches from eating the loose strands.
Use Scented Oils
To keep cockroaches away from your hair completely, spray it with a scented oil or similar product. Alternatively, if you’d prefer not to put a product on your hair, spray your pillow and bedding with a fragrance that will deter cockroaches. Because of their delicate sense of smell, cockroaches hate the smell of:
- Tea tree
If you use one of these scents, cockroaches won’t attempt to go near your hair and will go elsewhere for food. However, you might need to reapply the spray each night for it to have the maximum effect.
Hoover The Bed
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, it’s normal for humans to shed between 50 and 100 hairs a day. People with long or thick hair are likely to shed even more.
Humans lose hair strands each night while moving about while in their sleep. As a result, it’s not uncommon to see a bunch of loose hairs in the bed each morning after you’ve woken up.
These hairs will attract roaches when you’re not around, so hoover your bed and the area around it each morning to remove all loose strands that roaches could otherwise eat.
Regularly Wash Your Bedding
Similar to vacuuming your bedding, regularly wash it on a high heat, too. This will kill all cockroaches that are lurking and will destroy any eggs that are in your bedding, too.
Some cockroaches sleep in mattresses with gaps or holes, giving them easy access to your hair. Cockroaches rarely survive the washing machine and dryer, so be sure to wash and change your bedding at least once a week (but preferably every other day) until you’ve dealt with the cockroach infestation.
Keep Plugholes Clean
Cockroaches live in bathrooms and sewers where there’s plenty of water. They tend to get into houses by crawling up drains and pipes. When they’re in the house, that’s also where they’ll hide.
Hair sheds during a hair wash. As a result, it accumulates in the plughole for cockroaches to feast on. The bathroom plughole is often neglected, providing cockroaches with an endless supply of food.
Prevent this by cleaning the plughole each time you shower. Tweezers, a plunger, or a coat hanger will do the job.
For seriously blocked up drains, try a white vinegar solution and bicarbonate of soda, pouring it down the drain while it fizzes. Leave for a few minutes, then rinse. The hair should dissolve, while the remnants will wash down the drain.
Do Cockroaches Cause Hair Loss?
While cockroaches aren’t directly responsible for noticeable hair loss, they harbor and spread many harmful diseases that can make humans sick. One of the most common side-effects of these diseases is hair loss.
As a result, you must deal with a cockroach infestation quickly to prevent the following health conditions:
Dysentery is an intestinal inflammation that causes severe stomach cramps and diarrhea. Often, those with dysentery develop mucus and blood in the feces, which can be alarming for those who don’t realize they have the parasite.
Humans get infected by cockroaches carrying the dysentery-causing parasite. Dysentery is a severe condition. If it’s left untreated, sufferers cannot eat or drink because it’s too painful, becoming malnourished. As a result, their nutritionally poor diet leads to hair loss. Thankfully, once the condition is treated, the hair will grow back again.
Cockroaches spread roughly 33 varieties of bacteria, including E.coli and salmonella. This causes gastroenteritis, which is an inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, affecting the stomach and intestines. Symptoms include:
- Severe vomiting
- Abdominal pain
Similar to dysentery, the sickness prevents sufferers from eating, throwing their nutritional balance out of sync. Any disturbances to your diet can cause hair loss, which ranges in severity depending on the length and intensity of the condition.
As a result, as soon as you feel up to eating again, focus on topping up your vitamins and minerals, taking supplements if required.
Typhoid is another bacterial disease that’s passed on by cockroaches carrying the Salmonella typhi bacterium. Cockroaches harbor the disease by eating contaminated feces. Unfortunately, hair loss is commonly associated with typhoid fever, and there are several reasons for this.
The first is that people with typhoid need antibiotics to clear the infection. They also need to flush the bacteria from their system, which removes essential vitamins and nutrients necessary for hair growth.
Similarly, it’s thought that typhoid creates intestinal problems, making it difficult for the body to absorb essential nutrients.
Once typhoid is cleared up, normal hair growth should return after 6 months. However, this also largely depends on a nutritionally-rich diet that contains plenty of vitamins and minerals.
Cockroaches are a pest in any home, but if they start eating your hair, you likely have a severe infestation, in which roaches are competing for food. While you can prevent cockroaches from eating your hair, this situation will only stop when you eradicate the entire infestation.