Skip to content

Airbnb Lice: An Unseen Guest You Don’t Want to Host

Discover everything you need to know about Airbnb and lice, from understanding these pesky parasites to prevention and treatment. Whether you're a host or a guest, this guide will help you navigate any lice-related situation with ease.


By Karolyn Hutson

Published on June 17, 2023

Even the most immaculate Airbnb can play host to an unwelcome guest: lice. This article delves into the world of these pesky parasites and how they relate to Airbnb stays. We’ll explore everything from understanding lice to prevention and treatment, ensuring you’re well-equipped to handle any lice-related situation.

Understanding Airbnb Lice

What are Lice?

Lice are tiny, wingless, parasitic insects that inhabit the hair and skin, feeding on human blood. Three types of lice infest humans: head lice, body lice, and pubic lice. Head lice are most common, particularly among children, and are found in the hair on the head. They are about the size of a sesame seed and can be grayish-white or tan. Body lice live, lay eggs on clothing, and only move to the skin to feed. Pubic lice, often called “crabs,” inhabit the hair and skin in the pubic area. All types of lice infestations cause intense itching, triggered by an allergic reaction to lice saliva, and can be spread through close personal contact or the sharing of personal belongings.

How do Lice Spread?

Lice are social creatures. They spread primarily through person-to-person contact but can also hitch a ride on clothing, blankets, and other personal items. Public places, including Airbnb rentals, can become hotspots for lice if infested items are left behind.

Physical Appearance

Lice are small and often hard to spot. They range in color from white to gray to brown, and their eggs, or nits, are often mistaken for dandruff. Spotting a louse or a nit is often the first sign of an infestation.

Symptoms of Lice Infestation

Lice infestations are characterized by intense itching caused by an allergic reaction to lice bites. You may also see visible lice or eggs in the hair or feel movement in your hair. These symptoms can take a few weeks to appear, making early detection tricky.

Lice and Airbnb

Health Concerns

While lice are not known to spread disease, they can cause considerable discomfort and stress. An infestation can lead to skin irritation, sleeplessness, and in severe cases, secondary infections from scratching. For Airbnb hosts and guests, lice can also lead to reputational damage and financial loss.

Airbnb’s Policy and Response to Lice Infestations

Airbnb’s policy on lice is not explicitly defined. However, they emphasize the importance of cleanliness and expect hosts to maintain high standards. If a guest reports a lice infestation, Airbnb’s customer service typically steps in to mediate and find a resolution.

Risk of Getting Lice from Airbnb

How Likely is it to Get Lice from an Airbnb?

The risk of getting lice from an Airbnb is relatively low but not impossible. Lice can survive off-host for up to 48 hours, so an infestation can spread if cleaning procedures are not thorough. However, most hosts are diligent about cleaning, reducing the likelihood of lice infestation.

Can Lice Live on Pillows or Bedding?

Clean sheets and pillows to prevent lice in an Airbnb
Clean sheets and pillows to prevent lice in an Airbnb

Lice can survive on pillows, bedding, and other soft furnishings for a short period. They prefer warm, dark places, making the folds of bedding an ideal hiding spot. Regular and thorough cleaning is crucial to prevent lice from settling in.

Preventing and Dealing with Lice While Traveling

Preventative Measures

Preventing lice infestations is always better than dealing with one. Simple measures like avoiding head-to-head contact, not sharing personal items like hats or hairbrushes, and checking seats in public places can go a long way in keeping lice at bay.

DIY Treatments

If you find yourself dealing with lice, don’t panic. Over-the-counter treatments are widely available and effective. Remember to follow the instructions closely, and consider washing all your clothing and bedding in hot water to kill any lice or eggs. If you’re staying in an Airbnb, it’s also important to inform your host so they can take necessary actions.

Host Responsibilities

As an Airbnb host, maintaining a clean and lice-free environment is crucial. Regular cleaning, especially of bedding and upholstery, can help prevent infestations. If a guest reports lice, responding promptly and professionally is important, ensuring the issue is addressed, and future guests are not affected.

Wrapping Up

Lice infestations can be unwelcome during an Airbnb stay, but with knowledge and preventative measures, they can be avoided or dealt with effectively. Whether you’re a host or a guest, understanding lice and their habits can help ensure a comfortable and itch-free stay.

Written by

With over six years of short-term rental hosting experience, Karolyn has helped hundreds of guests have an enjoyable experience. I love writing and am passionate about real estate, hospitality, and photography. Karolyn holds a bachelor's degree in Journalism and enjoys sharing her experiences to help others.