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Basic Information You Should Know About Head Lice

blackboard with KNOW YOUR ENEMY written in white chalk

Updated on July 19, 2020

You may have heard lice terminology but what does it all mean?

If you get a call from your school nurse telling you that your child has nits, but not lice, you need to know what she is talking about. For her, the word “nit” may be a common term as she likely sees them often; for you it’s a first. Below is some basic lice vocabulary and what it means:


Lice are the bugs. They are parasites that feed from the blood in a human scalp. They have six legs and no wings. They move by crawling, not jumping or flying.


Louse is the singular of lice. Each female louse lives 30 days and lays 6-10 eggs a day before it dies.


Nymphs are baby lice. They take about 7- 10 days to mature. When first laid, they are microscopic in size and grow each day until maturity. They are very vulnerable at first as they have lost the protection of the shell of the egg.


Nits are the eggs laid by the lice. They have a hard shell and are translucent in color. When placed against a white background, they appear brownish as the bug inside shows through. They grow to be the size of a sesame seed and are found glued onto the hair, close to the scalp.

hand drawn images of lice life cycle including egg nit nymph and adult louse

Here you can find a more detailed discussion on HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU ARE LOOKING AT A NIT (LOUSE EGG)?

It can be overwhelming dealing with head lice, and understanding the stages of lice is important. If you have any questions or would like a professional lice technician to come to your home to check and treat your family, call LiceDoctors in the Huntsville area at 256-369-4286 . We answer the phone from 6:00 am until 11:00 pm every day of the week including weekends. For more information on the stages of lice and many other topics check out our Education Center