Updated on July 31, 2020
By Lice Technician, Kelli Ogle
Updated By Tierna Moser
Recognizing the signs of head lice is important because the quicker you are able to diagnose a head lice infestation, the easier it is to treat it. Being able to recognize these signs can help you to stay a step ahead and be prepared.
What Is Lice?
Over the years we have received many calls from concerned parents who are unsure whether their child has lice or not. They ask questions like “What color is lice?” and “My child has an itchy head but I cannot see any bugs, how do I know if it’s lice or not?” Before you can deal with a problem, it is important to know what you are facing. Lice is a parasite. While there are different types of lice, they survive in different areas of the human body, feeding off of blood and laying their eggs.
Types of Lice
There are three different types of lice that humans can get. Head lice, body lice and pubic lice. Before reaching out to a professional for help, it is important to know which of these types of lice you have.
- Head lice is most commonly found in school-aged children. The head louse live on the human head, feeding off of blood from the scalp and laying eggs on strands of hair. They are about the size of a sesame seed, have six legs and are wingless. Their eggs are tear-drop shaped, glued to and camouflaged on the hair within ¼ of an inch of the scalp.
- Body lice are similar in appearance to head lice, but are longer and pointier at the back end. They live in clothing and bedding, where they lay eggs, traveling to the human body periodically throughout the night to feed. MayoClinic.org
- Pubic lice are found and live on the strands of hair in the pubic area of the body. Sometimes they can be found on coarse hair on other areas of the body. Eggs are laid on strands of hair. Pubic lice are shorter and fatter and look like a crab. CDC.gov
Causes of Head Lice
There are a few different causes of hair lice, but the most common way to get it is through head to head contact with an infested individual. Lice rely on their ability to crawl from place to place. They do not like to leave the warm environment of their human host so it is uncommon to contract lice from inanimate objects like furniture or hair accessories.
How To Tell If You Have Lice
There are many different signs of lice on the head. Experiences vary from person to person so it is very important that if you investigate any signs of lice in hair. You’ll need to know how to identify head lice, and not just be alert to an itchy head.
- Nits: Lice eggs are a sign of a lice infestation. Close to the scalp and glued to the hair, you cannot just flick them off with your finger. They are a little larger than the size of a pin head, oval in shape with a narrow tip and have a near transparent shell. When placed on a white backdrop they look brown or tan.
- Sores: Bites from lice and scratching them may create sores or a rash on the scalp, back of the neck, and behind the ears. The itchiness derives from a person’s allergic reaction to the saliva secreted by the louse upon sucking blood from human scalp.
- Bugs: Seeing a louse is a sign that you have lice. However, the bugs are elusive, proving difficult to find. Lice will flee usually before you can see them.
- Movement/crawling on the scalp: Adult head lice move around and sometimes can be felt. Some people are more sensitive to the movement than others. This can also disturb the quality of sleep as lice are most active at night.
- Another family member has head lice: If you live in the home with someone who has head lice, there is a high chance that others in the home have it as well. This is the case especially when there are young children in the house. Bugs are often transferred from child to parent. Everyone should be checked and treated at the same time.
Early Signs Of Lice
It is important to be alert to the earliest signs of a case of lice. Some may wonder “Why is my head itchy?” This is because either you can feel the tiniest movements on your head, or are sensitive to their bites. Some people never notice anything. Because of this, it is important to check your hair regularly. Lice are mobile so finding a bug early on is difficult. To catch the case early you should examine the strands of hair for their eggs (nits). Lice lay 6-10 eggs per day which will become visible a few days after they are laid. Viable eggs are very close to the scalp.
If you find you are dealing with a head lice infestation, contact LiceDoctors. If you put yourself in the hands of LiceDoctors, you are guaranteed that a capable and kind technician will eradicate your lice. Technicians have treated nearly 500,000 clients SAFELY and EFFECTIVELY. In addition, our prices are lower than salon pricing! LiceDoctors is the number one lice removal service in the U.S. Call us at 800-224-2537 for head lice treatment today.