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How Do you KNOW if you are Looking at a Nit (Louse Egg)?

Man with glasses trying to see lice on a paper towel

Updated on September 15, 2017

You see something in your child's hair. You start to wonder. Then you start to panic. Does she have head lice? Did he pick up a case from his best friend?

September is lice awareness month and we at LiceDoctors want to share a tip with you as to how to positively identify a nit (egg). This advice is based on our 20 years of treatments and dedicated focus on head lice.

  1. Pull the nit from the hair and place it on a white paper towel or piece of paper. 
  2. If it is brown, round on one side and pointy on the other with an antenna, then you are seeing a nit. 
  3. If it blends into the white background then it is a DEC plug (secretion from the oil glands) or a piece of dandruff.
  4. If it is round and black, it is a piece of debris. 

Lice and nits (lice eggs) under a microscope

This is a magnified view of a louse and nits (eggs). You can see that the nits are oval shaped with an antenna on one end.

Rookie Mistakes are Common

The most common mistake that parents and even nurses make is confusing DEC plugs with head lice nits. Both are small and stick to the hair. The differences are in the shape and color, as explained above. It is especially common to find DEC plugs in hair that has been treated with chemicals (lice shampoos). The oil glands get blocked and secrete little white sticky things. Whereas both nits and DEC plugs appear whitish in the hair, again when you pull them out and put them against a white background you will be able to determine if you are looking at nits or DEC plugs, which are harmless. 

If you ascertain that you are looking at a nit, or even if you just suspect that it is a nit, it is time to act. Nits never go away by themselves. In about 10 days, those nits will hatch and then you will have nymphs, which are baby lice, in your hair. As those mature over the next 10 days, they will reproduce and your case will expand significantly. While nits do not move, they are stuck to the hair, lice bugs are harder to diagnose as they hide and move very quickly throughout the hair. Each adult bug can lay 6 to 10 eggs a day over a course of 30 days. You get the picture: Within a few weeks what may have started out with a single bug, can quickly become an infestation. 

Expert Help is Available

Head lice and nits are not dangerous, but they are a nuisance. If you suspect that you have lice give us a call and we can come to your home that same day to give you peace of mind and eliminate any lice and nits you may have. No case is too tough!

LiceDoctors is the only lice service under the direction of a medical doctor and we use all-natural protocols; we are the #1 professional head lice and nit removal company in your area. We make house calls day and night and do school checks. GUARANTEED results. We urge you NOT to use chemical treatments; they are NOT effective and may have side effects!

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