How to Tell Lice and Nits from Fluff and Fuzz

Lice are small.

Nits (lice eggs) are even smaller. Like the period of this sentence.

It can be very hard to tell a lice infestation from dandruff, bits of dust, and hair spray, especially if you don't know what you're looking for and how to find it. Our guide will help you figure out if you're in the clear or if it's time to ring the alarm and get all hands on deck to start battling head lice.

 

Is it Lice?

Nymphs are young lice and are a fraction of the size of an adult louse, which is about the size of a sesame seed.

Lice vary in color from transclucent to light to dark reddish-brown

They've evolved to live on human heads and that is the only place they can move around very easily. They have no wings and cannot jump, fly, or swim.


Is it a Nit?

Nits are harder to find, identify, and remove than lice because they are so small. If it isn't a shade of brown, hard to remove from the hair, and shaped like a teardrop, it isn't a nit.

Viable nits are only found within a quarter inch of the scalp. If you find a nit that is almost white or transclucent, not attached to a hair, or farther than a quarter inch from the scalp, it is not viable. It will not hatch or it has already hatched and just the casing or shell is left.


Is it Neither?

There are some very poor images on the internet of what lice and nits look like. I've included a few here just so you can see for yourself. If you find these on a website offering advice, you might want to think twice.

Now that you know what they look like, check out our guide: How to Check for Head Lice and Nits.