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    Lice Eggs (Nits) - A COMPLETE guide with answers to all your questions!

    • 10 min read

    Practically everyone out there has heard the word lice before, but not everyone has come across the word nits. Lice and nits go hand in hand; you won’t find one without the other.

    In this article:

    what do lice eggs look like

    What are Nits?

    Plainly speaking, nits are head lice eggs. Nits are just the appropriate terminology to use when talking about lice eggs. Just like lice and Super Lice, nits are not dangerous, but they sure are a nuisance!

    Female lice lay nits very close to the human scalp, and sometimes appear to be right on the scalp itself, even though they are actually on the hair strand. They glue the nits in place on hair shafts, which makes removing them a pain.

    Ready to learn more about the trials and tribulations of nit removal, containment, symptoms, and ultimate elimination? Let’s dive into the details together. 

     

    lice eggs under microscope

    How Can I Tell Nits From Lice?

    Distinguishing nits from lice isn’t as hard as it sounds. So when you’re feeling panicked when your child’s school nurse calls home with bad news about lice in the classroom, rest assured, “How can I tell nits from lice?” is an easy question to answer!

    The lice are the actual bugs and they move around through your hair. The nits are immobile and they are cemented to the hair shaft in close proximity to the scalp. The nits can also be up to two inches away from the scalp. Lice, however, prefer to stay close to the scalp, their sole feeding source. But they can crawl anywhere on the scalp, neck, or even onto clothing and furniture. Lice are on the move!

    What Color are Lice Eggs?

    Lice eggs, or nits, range in color from clear to tan to dark brown to white, depending on what stage they are in, and they are the shape of a tear drop. However, head lice are grayish or light brown. While head lice are around the size of a sesame seed, unfortunately, nits are even tinier— as small as a dot from a pencil or the size of a pinhead! That makes it very difficult to see nits with the naked eye. We recommend using a magnifying glass and a bright light to see if nits are the right color and shape.

    louse egg in hair

     

    How Long Does It Take For Lice Eggs To Hatch?

    Technically, after a lice egg (nit) hatches, it becomes a nymph before growing into maturity and officially becoming an adult louse - which is the singular term for lice. Nits take approximately 7-10 days to hatch after they are laid. After a nit hatches, a nymph is born. Nymphs are a muddled white and gray color and are just slightly larger than a pinhead. The nymph will shed its exoskeleton (molt) three times before becoming an adult louse. This process takes another 7-10 days.

    head lice infestation


    How Do Nits Spread?

    Since nits are so difficult to see with the naked eye, prevention is vital in stopping nits from hatching into full-blown lice and causing an infestation. Nits themselves cannot travel from head to head, as they are immobile and glued onto the hair. Rather, nits are spread by the female louse. A female louse can lay up to 150 eggs in the span of her life - between 2 and 10 nits per day. That’s a lot of eggs! With that being said, it is absolutely critical to treat head lice to ensure they do not begin laying more nits, which the newly hatched females - called nymphs - do within 10 days of hatching. The entire life cycle of lice, from the time it hatches to its death, is approximately 30 days.

     

    Lice Eggs vs Dandruff - How can I tell the difference?

    Because of their size, it’s easy to mistake nits for flecks of dry scalp. Unlike dry scalp, nits do not detach from the hair easily, and cannot be removed by shaking or brushing. Nits most often appear near the scalp and up to two inches away from the scalp, because they need the warmth of your body heat to help them hatch. People think nits are most commonly found at the nape of the neck or behind the ears, but that is a myth.
     
    The words most commonly associated with how nits adhere to the hair shaft are “glued” or “cemented.” We’re serious when we say it is difficult to remove these tiny lice eggs. Don’t be discouraged or disheartened! We have a state of the art comb that makes removing nits a breeze! And our Head Lice Treatment Spray dissolves the glue on the nits so you can slide them right off. Although checking for nits is important, it's better to use live lice for diagnosis as explained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
     
    Misdiagnosis of head lice infestation is common. The diagnosis of head lice infestation is best made by finding a live nymph or adult louse on the scalp or hair of a person. Because adult and nymph lice are very small, move quickly, and avoid light, they may be difficult to find. Use of a fine-toothed louse comb may facilitate identification of live lice.
    - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2019)
    Our Lice Choice Nit Fee Terminator Lice Comb makes pulling out nits as simple and straightforward as possible. This nit comb was carefully designed for maximum effectiveness to help you expel every last nit. The comb’s micro-grooved teeth grab onto the lice and nits and gently removes them from the hair without yanking out all your hair in the process.
     
     
    lice comb

     

    What Are The Symptoms of Lice and Nits?

    Since nits are eggs attached to the hair shaft, they do not present any symptoms beyond resembling dandruff. Just to cover all the bases though, let’s touch on the symptoms associated with head lice, which is a likely indicator of the presence of nits. 

    The symptoms of lice include:

    • Feeling that something is moving around the hair or scalp 
    • Itching or burning sensation
    • Sores from scratching 
    • Tiny red, swollen bumps, the size of a pinhead
    • Presence of insects anywhere along the scalp, nape of the neck, or behind the ears
    • Insomnia – lice are more active at night

     

    head lice symptoms
     

    What is (NOT) Effective in Getting Rid of Nits?

    There are a number of over-the-counter and prescription treatments for lice and nit removal. These can be found at your local drugstores, pharmacies, and of course, with online suppliers.

    Please be aware that over-the-counter lice treatments are not effective at killing nits, nor are they effective at getting rid of Super Lice. In fact, Super Lice are resistant to over-the-counter products! Common and traditional over-the-counter lice treatment products will have zero effect on Super Lice. And many over-the-counter products claim they kill the nits, but they do not. It is nearly impossible to break through the hard shell of the nit. So the most effective way to get rid of nits is to use a product like Lice Choice to unglue them from the hair, then comb them out with our nit comb.

    But there can’t be that many Super Lice out there, right? Wrong! The Oxford Journal of Medical Entomology revealed in a 2016 study that evaluated lice samples from 48 states in the USA, 95% of all the lice collected were Super Lice! This means that potentially 95% of the lice out there are completely immune to insecticide treatments. For more information about Super Lice, click here.

    Also, these over-the-counter products use harsh chemicals and pesticides. Know what farmers put on cattle to keep them bug-free? How about what's in bug bombs? Potentially the exact same ingredients that are in those lice treatment bottles that you are using on your child’s head!

    Curious about what side effects these over-the-counter lice treatments can cause? We’re talking not just about blurred vision and rashes. Unfortunately, the common active ingredients - pyrethrins and permethrin - in these bottles can actually cause symptoms as serious as hyperactivity and other behavioral disorders in children, as a recent study suggests. Additionally, another study from the American Academy of Pediatrics found that only "44.9% and 42.9% permethrin-treated participants" were lice free after two treatments during a 21 day period.

    While prescription lice treatments may sound like a quick fix for getting rid of stubborn lice, they have enormously alarming side effects and can cause permanent damage to the body and the brain! Prescription lice treatment products containing Lindane are known to be neurotoxic and carcinogenic. While lice are annoying, they do not carry diseases, viruses, or bacteria. The damage you can cause with toxic lice treatments is far more harmful than the damage done by the lice itself!

    Naturally, there are also copious amounts of home remedies circulating the internet. Feel like slathering mayonnaise on your hair? How about a nice soak in apple cider vinegar? Whether these sound like pleasant lice treatment options or not, there is no actual evidence that home remedies are effective at killing lice or nits. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) strongly urges parents against using home remedies such as essential oils to get rid of lice.

    How To Get Rid Of Nits And Lice

    After all this, are you wondering how to get rid of lice naturally? The answer is Lice Choice. Lice Choice's formula takes the natural digestive enzymes that lice need to molt their exoskeleton and utilizes it against them. We have created a super-concentrated formula that takes digestive enzymes and, when applied to lice, rapidly accelerates their life cycle— taking it from 30 days down to just a few minutes! It is also non-toxic, non-GMO, organic, and natural. 

    We have worked in our clinics with thousands of people to help them rid their families of lice and nits. Our products have all the strength and none of the side effects! That’s right, our lice treatment products are safe to use on every skin type on every person in your family, no matter their age!

    • Follow the directions as laid out exactly on the label.
    • Use a cape and hair clips to make treatment easier.
    • Make sure to watch our video on how to treat lice.
    • Use our Nit Free Terminator Comb and our magnifying glasses with lights to make sure all nits are removed.

    Once Lice Choice Head Lice Treatment Spray has been applied to the hair and scalp, it is vital to ensure all the nits have been removed to prevent further infestation. Unfortunately, it is a sad reality that removing each individual nit is the only way to stop the spread of further lice infestations. Some parents wonder why their child keeps getting lice; the reason is usually that not all the nits have been removed from the scalp.

    Nits cannot survive off of a human host. They need the warmth and heat of our bodies, like an incubator, to help them hatch. Thus, making sure that every single nit is removed from a lice-infested head is the only way to truly prevent re-infestation.

    What Supplies Will I Need To Get Rid Of Nits?

    Effective treatment for nits involves the following supplies: 

    • Lice Choice Nit Free Terminator Comb
    • Lice Choice Head Spray
    • Magnifying glasses with lights
    • Cape, hair clips, and paper towels

     

    Lice Choice Complete at home lice treatment kit

     

    First, saturate the hair with Lice Choice Head Lice Treatment Spray, and leave the spray in while you remove the nits. Separate the hair into very thin, one-inch sections and work exclusively with one section at a time. Make sure you comb from the scalp all the way to the end of the hair using the Lice Choice Nit Free Terminator Comb.

    Wipe the comb on a plain white paper towel before each additional pass through the hair. Move onto the next section and repeat. Make sure you repeat this process with each section of hair until the entire head has been passed through with the nit comb.

    For best results, use our magnifying glasses with lights on each section of hair to make sure all the nits are gone. You will be amazed at the lice and nits you will see with the magnifying glasses that you would have missed with the naked eye.

    Using a cape is recommended, as this will help keep the clothes dry. Hair clips are also very useful, as they make sectioning off hair even easier. For video instructions demonstrating proper lice treatment technique, click here.

    How To Prevent Lice

    Lice are spread by person-to-person contact and are extremely common in school-aged children. To prevent the spread of head lice and their resultant nits, it is important to educate children as to what lice are, what side effects they cause, and how they can contract lice from their classmates and friends. It's best to suggest that children avoid sharing things like hats, towels, sports helmets, hair accessories and hairbrushes with their friends! And girls with long hair should keep their hair in a bun or braid, to minimize hair-to-hair contact with others.

    The beauty of our Lice Choice Head Lice Treatment Spray is that it can be used as a daily lice preventative, as well as being used as a treatment for an active case of lice. It's like getting two products in one. It is gentle enough to spray on the hair every day, so if a louse transfers onto your head the solution will start breaking down its exoskeleton and nip your infestation before it gets out of control!

    Head lice and nits can exist on fabric furniture, carpets, stuffed animals, pillows, and clothing for up to 3 days after coming into contact with someone who is infested with lice and nits. Such materials should be put in the dryer on high heat at around 130 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.

    Keep in mind that lice bugs need a fiber to grab on to, so you do not need to worry about treating anything that is smooth: leather furniture, wood, tile, plastic, etc.

    Another option to prevent the spread of lice and nits is to place clothes, towels, stuffed animals and bed linens in plastic bags for two weeks. It is not necessary to seal the bags, just keep them away from human contact. To properly treat your combs and brushes, you have two options:

    1) Boil a pot of water, remove the pot from the stove, then place brushes and combs in the water for 10 minutes.

    -OR-

    2) Place combs, brushes, and hair accessories in ziplock bags in the freezer for 12 hours.

    If you’d rather avoid the hassle of bagging everything that might have lice and storing it in the garage for two weeks, we recommend you use our Lice Choice Household Spray. This spray works effectively on anything in your house that lice could have potentially gotten onto, such as stuffed animals, carpets, blankets, pillows, couches, and car seats. Just remember you only need to spray items with fabric.

    The Lice Choice Household Spray eradicates lice from your home and helps protect against a lice re-infestation. Some families prefer a squeaky clean home; every family prefers a lice-free home!