Updated on June 25, 2020
Not everything that you think is lice really is. How do you know if you are looking at signs of head lice in the hair? You see something that looks awfully similar to the pictures online, but is that really lice?
You may feel itchy so you check your own hair (no easy feat). Perhaps your child’s best friend has head lice so you check your daughter’s hair. There are several cases of head lice in your son’s third grade class. You take a look in his hair and you see things. Is that an egg? Is it debris? Dandruff? How are you supposed to know what you are looking at? If you call in a specialist, how do you know that you can trust that service?
All of these are important and valid questions. Look at the picture above. We have circled a brownish thing in the hair. Is that a nit (lice egg)? Let us give you a description of nits before you take a guess. This is based on our treating a half million cases over two decades.
What Do Nits Look Like?
Nits are oval in shape and are tiny. These eggs are translucent on the outside and contain a small brownish bug called a nymph. When in the hair, nits will take on a brownish tinge so as to blend in with the hair, especially on brunettes. Nits are glued to the hair and do not fall off.
The Centers for Diseases Control describes nits as, “Eggs: Nits are head lice eggs. They are hard to see and are often confused for dandruff or hair spray droplets. Nits are laid by the adult female and are cemented at the base of the hair shaft nearest the scalp.”
WebMD says that nits are the size of a pinhead. They are oval and appear beige or whitish and try to blend in with the hair. They are cemented to the hair right near the scalp and are difficult to extract. They take 8 or 9 days to hatch.once they hatch, they leave lice casings or empty shells in the hair.
Is that a Nit in the Girl’s Hair?
Based on these descriptions and any other information that you may have, is that a nit in the girl’s hair above? If you answered “no” then you would be correct! Here are some of the clues:
- The nit is too far down the hair. Nits are laid very close to the scalp. Why is that? The nit needs the warmth of the human’s head to survive. Additionally, when the nit hatches, the nymph (infant louse) that comes out, needs to ingest blood from the head multiple times a day. The human blood is the sustenance of the louse.
- If you find a nit inches from the scalp, that would mean you are seeing an empty shell. The shell is whitish.That nit would have already hatched and stayed stuck on the hair while the hair grew. That would no longer be a viable nit.
- The brownish thing in the hair is not the shape of a nit. A nit is oval, not elongated. As you can see from the picture with the magnified view of nits, nits are oval with a pointy antenna coming from the front. Nits are not a sliver like what we are seeing in the girl’s hair.
- In addition, although you can not tell from the picture, this sliver is easily pulled out of the hair. A further litmus test for nits is that they must be glued onto the hair. Since we can easily pull off this sliver, we know that it is not a nit.
- And the final clue...there is only one. Each louse will deposit 6-10 eggs a day in the hair for a month, then the bug dies. It is highly unlikely that a view of the hair would show no signs of lice except one nit. The only time you might view a single nit in the hair would be an overlooked one after a thorough lice and nit removal treatment.
The brown sliver in this girl’s hair is actually a piece of debris, not a nit. We all get debris in our hair just by going about our day to day life. It can be a piece of dirt or dust, a piece of a leaf, residue from shampoo, etc. There are many completely harmless things that can show up in the hair. Were we not on the hunt for head lice, we would not even know these things are in our hair.
Why is Lice More Prevalent Now Than Ever?
San Diego head lice infestations are becoming increasingly prevalent among school age children. Because lice are contagious, often families of these children also get head lice infestation and are in need of lice treatment. Increased physical contact with other school children adds to the possibility of children getting head lice.
The big issue is that lice have morphed into super lice. These lice are extremely resilient and do not succumb to lice killing shampoos. The American Academy of Dermatology reports that because the active ingredients have not changed in these shampoos over the years, particularly OTC remedies, new generations of head lice have become immune or resistant to them. In addition, lice eggs are coated with a material that prevents the chemical lice killing medications from being absorbed.
Parents have also found that natural lice remedies or herbal oils are often not effective in eliminating lice. You must comb out all nits to be rid of a case and often inexperienced nit pickers leave nits behind. Some people are forced to discontinue use of these products because they develop a rash or other allergy to the herbal oil. Typical oils used include tea tree, neem, anise, and peppermint.
Some parents resort to calling their pediatrician for advice. While your doctor may be an expert in many ailments, chances are he or she is not a trained lice doctor. Most doctors don’t choose to be lice pickers because it is very time consuming and they do not want to spread lice to patients in the waiting room. They will likely recommend an OTC medication like Nix Lice Removal Kit, Pronto Lice Killing Shampoo, or Rid Lice Killing Shampoo or they will recommend a prescription lice treatment like Sklice or Malathion. Ulesfia, another prescription shampoo, has recently been discontinued. Unfortunately, the prescription lice treatments also do not work every time and may cause side effects.
Given the growing resistance to formerly successful lice treatments, it is no wonder that the incidence of head lice is growing.
Time to Engage the Services of a Professional Specialist
If you are like many people, you have little experience with head lice. You know the basic facts of lice and that includes that nits are tiny, brownish, and sit in the hair. Then you look at your child’s hair and you see something that is tiny, brownish, and sits in the hair. What are you going to think?
Now if you engage the services of a professional, you hope that the person will be honest. At LiceDoctors we love to be the bearer of good news.
As Cassie K. in San Diego told us, “I’m not going to lie. I had been around my niece and then learned that she had head lice. I was freaking out and felt obsessively itchy. Then I looked in my hair and saw some stuff. That’s all I needed to convince myself that I had lice. My sister told me to call LiceDoctors, which was the right move. As soon as the tech, Ronnie, saw my hair, she smiled and delivered the good news: the things in my hair were not nits or lice. She did a more thorough check and she found and pronounced me lice-free! I am so pleased that they are honest and that I did not have lice!”
While sometimes, a “nit” is not really a nit, more often than not, if you are itchy and see things in the hair, you are looking at a case of lice. San Diego head lice infestations are becoming increasingly prevalent among school age children. Because lice are contagious, often families of these children also get head lice infestations and are in need of lice treatment. Increased physical contact with other school children increases the possibility of children getting head lice. Head lice transmission occurs when two individuals are near each other. The closer the heads are, the more likely it is that one person will transfer lice to another.
This is why we recommend the convenience and experience of a professional in-home San Diego lice removal service like LiceDoctors, who will come and check and treat your whole family. Your lice treatment is safe for infants, pregnant moms, elderly, and everyone in between.
As lice technician Kim says “I love this job, as I help people go from “OH NO” to “Aaahhh this will all be OK.” I get them free of lice and more importantly educated and focused about exactly how to handlethis problem. Although I make new friends along the way, they never need to see me again. I just touch down like a lice angel…ok a weird looking angel with my magnifying goggles and shower cap…humor me – angels come in all stripes.” Give LiceDoctors mobile lice treatment a call at 858-939-9202 for safe, effective, and honest lice removal at home today. You will be pleased with the results...we guarantee it!