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Head Lice: How to Identify Head Lice and Nits

lifecycle of lice and nits

Every parent of young children should know how to identify head lice and nits (eggs). Why? Roughly 3-12 million Americans will get head lice this year. Will you be able to identify head lice if you or a family member gets lice?

Identifying head lice can be tricky. In fact, you may not be able to detect head lice unless you have seen it before or you really know what you’re looking for. Frequently, parents take a quick look and see nothing. Others might misdiagnose head lice when they see ‘white specs’ in the hair, which may be scalp debris such as dandruff, DEC plugs or hair casts.

What to look for?

Head Lice & Nit Image

Mature head lice are about the size of a sesame seed. They have six legs and do not have wings. They are usually camouflaged in color, which ranges from pale beige color to yellow, grey-brown or dark brown. After a feeding, a louse will be tinged with red or dark brown, which is when they are most visible. Nymphs (baby lice) are tiny and hard to see due to size. Nymphs can appear red in color after a feeding.

NitsLice eggs (nits) are never white. Empty nit shells may appear to be translucent (see-through) which is why they seem to take on the color of the hair. Viable nits appear in shades of brown, never translucent or opaque.

Lice eggs are clearly attached to one side of the hair shaft. DEC plugs and hair casts surround the hair shaft. This dandruff like scalp debris also sticks to the hair shaft like a nit but they are white and slide easier.

Do not confuse psuedonits such as DEC plugs, hair casts or other hair debris with lice eggs. Remember – if it is white, it’s not a lice egg.

PsuedonitsStill not sure if what you are seeing are nits and/or head lice? Submit a picture to Lice Free Noggins for a free head lice diagnosis. We will quickly assess the picture and let you know if a treatment is necessary.

Lice Free Noggins Lice Removal Services provides families with an all-natural solution to head lice. Call 347-460-1669 to learn more today.


We also provide head lice screenings to schools, daycares and camps. Our trained technicians will check each individual and faculty in a quick and efficient manner. When necessary, we can educate staff and teachers about preventative measures and how to recognize early signs of head lice. Want to keep your facility lice free? Contact Lice Free Noggins to learn more about our school head lice screenings and camp head lice screening options.

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