Home › How to Identify Lice
To understand how to identify lice, it helps to know the three different forms of head lice:
- Nits are oval-shaped lice eggs that attach themselves to the hair shaft. They are hard to see with the naked eye, as they’re only about as large as a knot in a piece of thread. Usually white or yellow in color, they are often confused with dandruff or scabs. Nits usually take about 8-9 days to hatch. Eggs that are likely to hatch are usually located very close to the base of the hair shaft.
- A nymph is an immature louse (singular of lice) that hatches from the nit. It takes about 9-12 days for a nymph to mature into an adult.
- An adult louse is about the size of a sesame seed, has six legs, and is tan to grayish-white in color. An adult louse, which must feed on blood in order to live, can survive up to 30 days on a person’s head but will die within one or two days if it falls off a person.
- The most common symptom associated with head lice is itching, although it may take some time for symptoms to develop.
- Head lice can usually be detected by looking closely for live lice or eggs in the hair. Use of a magnifying glass can assist in the search.
- If you’re not sure whether your child has head lice, ask a school nurse or other health care provider to conduct a thorough search.