Lice Treatment Service » Head Lice Tips » The Life Cycle of Lice OR How Can I Get Rid of these Bugs and LICE Eggs?

The Life Cycle of Lice OR How Can I Get Rid of these Bugs and LICE Eggs?

line art drawing of head lice life cycle egg or nit, nymph stages, adult louse

Updated on July 17, 2020

When dealing with head lice, it helps to understand their life cycle. Pulling off nits (lice eggs) is a different process from killing lice bugs.

The age old question revised: what comes first the lice or the egg? The answer is straightforward: lice come first. An egg or nit cannot attach itself to the hair. The only way a nit can be in your hair is if a louse climbed in and started its journey of laying up to 10 nits a day.

. There are three stages in the life cycle of lice:

  • Lice egg (nit)
  • nymph (baby)
  • louse (adult)

First we will focus on the nit stage.


The lice egg (nit) is laid on the hair strand, near to the scalp (within 1/4 inch). Nits are cemented to the hair and change color as they develop. magnified-picture-of-lice-eggs-lice-doctorsThey take 8-12 days to mature and hatch. Nits that have hatched are generally 2 inches or more down the hair strand. Nits are round on one end and pointy on the other. The pointy end has an antenna coming out of it.

On the hair nits appear translucent with a brownish tinge but when viewed against a white background, they are brownish. The brown color comes from inside the nit where a nymph or baby bug is growing. Nits are NOT white and often people mistaken white sticky things in the hair for nits. White sticky dots are DEC plugs which are secretions from oil glands. Flakey specks are dandruff.

Nits are stuck to the hair and can not be brushed off easily. When you move your fingers down the hair you will feel a hard bump: that is a nit. Nits are impervious to chemical lice products as these products can not penetrate the nits’ outer shell. To remove the nits is a labor-intensive process and experience helps a lot. There are no short cuts. Each nit must be extracted from the hair; if any are overlooked and left behind, they will hatch and the cycle will continue.


For those of you who are stuck in a cycle where lice keep recurring, it is because when a head lice egg is not removed, the nymph hatches. microscopic image of a male head louse courtesy of Gilles San MartinThat nymph grows and when it is mature it is ready to lay eggs. Mature lice are about the size of a sesame seed, have 6 legs, no wings, and are translucent. Now you are back to the beginning of the life cycle.

That mature louse will climb onto someone’s hair and use the strand as a ladder to get to blood in the scalp for its meal. Lice feed on human blood from the scalp up to 3 times daily and will die within 48 hours when off the head. Only live bugs can get into your hair; nits can not move or attach to the hair. If they fall out if the hair (which does not usually happen), they are no longer viable.


Because of how contagious head lice are and how difficult it is to remove all head lice eggs and bugs, we recommend that you contact a head lice treatment company like LiceDoctors.LiceDoctors Technician and smiling Family all wearing shower caps

Technicians use head lice treatment protocols that are safe and chemical-free and work every time. We treat families in almost every state and technicians come to your home for convenient and affordable head lice treatment and nit removal service. We offer a 100% guarantee on our services and have the lowest prices in your area. Call 516-324-2800 for an appointment today or visit LiceDoctors at