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How Do You Tell the Difference Between Lice and Nits?

Picture of Head Lice and Nits (Eggs)

You may look at the above picture of a paper towel that is loaded with nits and bugs and see a lot of amorphous brown things. What is what? When Elizabeth, a technician in Nashville, was treating a family in Murfreesboro, she showed this paper towel to the mom. The mom had a perplexed look on her face as she said, "I can't tell which are the lice and which are the nits (eggs)." There are definite differences between the two if you look at them carefully. Lice are little brown bugs with 6 legs and the adult ones are larger than a nit, which makes sense since the nit is the embryo encased in a shell. On the left side of the paper towel, you can see 3 lice with the one on the upper corner being the largest. Since when looking at the head, lice can be be hard to see, it is best to look under a bright lamp. Nits are oval with an antenna protruding from the front. The little brownish specks that are surrounding the louse on the upper left are nits. They come in varying sizes depending on their stage of development. The nits in the upper left are quite immature which is why they are so small. In the lower middle of the picture is a more developed and larger nit. Often people find white specks in their hair. These are not nits. They are either dandruff if they flake off easily or are DEC plugs which are secretions from the oil glands that stick to the hair. The DEC plugs are often mistaken for nits by folks who are not experienced in lice removal. If you are in the Nashville area and have questions about what you are finding in the hair, call us anytime at 615-953-0047. We will help you out and can send a lice expert to your home day or evening any day of the week.