What do lice eggs look like in hair?

Children’s caretakers need to know what head lice look like because most school-aged kids get them.

It’s easy to think that dandruff is actually lice. Once you know how head lice look on a child’s head, it will be easier to tell them apart.

Being able to spot head lice will also help you choose the best way to treat them. Most of the time, you only need to use a lice shampoo on your child when you see live lice. If you only see lice eggs and no live lice, you just need to remove them carefully.

There are pictures of head lice in this article. You will find out how to tell if your child has live lice or just lice eggs. Once you know for sure that your child has lice, you can get them treated.

What Lice Look Like in Hair

A child with head lice is shown in this picture.

Don’t know what to do because you can’t find any lice? Believe it or not, right before the picture was taken, there was a big, living louse on their head. It shows how hard it is to find lice in a child, especially one with long hair.

Your child’s hair’s texture, color, and thickness can also make it harder to find lice. On the head of a child with light, thin hair, a louse might be easier to spot than on the head of a child with dark, coarse, thick hair.

How the adult lice look

This picture shows a head louse up close. Head lice are about the size of a sesame seed when they are full-grown.

A louse has six legs, which are easy to see. If you blew up the picture more, you might be able to see the small claws that lice use to grab hair at the end of their legs.

How adult female lice look

Head lice of each gender have different looks.

From the picture above, you can see that a female head louse is a little “fatter” than a male.

Head Lice at a Glance

If you think your child has lice, head lice pictures like this one can help you know what to look for when you do a lice check, such as live lice and lice eggs (nits).

How a Lice Louse Appears

This picture shows a live head louse on a child’s head. To make the louse easier to see, a red circle is drawn around it.

What Lice Nits in Hair Look Like

You should not only know what lice look like, but also how their eggs look.

Nits are the name for lice eggs. They are small, oval, and usually yellowish-white. They are firmly attached to the sides of hair shafts.

Some people only use “nits” to talk about empty egg shells, while “lice eggs” are used to talk about eggs that can hatch (viable eggs).

But some people use the word “nits” for both live lice eggs and empty egg shells.

Even if your child has nits, that doesn’t mean he or she has live lice. Some nits are actually empty eggshells. Others are already dead and only have non-infectious lice eggs inside.

The most likely infected nits are the ones that are close to your child’s scalp. They are also thought to be the ones that take six to nine days to hatch into live lice.

If you keep finding new nits in your child’s hair even after you’ve taken the old ones out, this is another sign that your child has live lice and needs treatment.

Most of the time, a live louse will lay up to eight eggs a day. If your child has only a few nits, it’s likely that they don’t have an active case of lice.

How Lice Live, Grow and Die

As a carer, it’s important to know more about head lice than just what they look like. Also, it helps to know how the life cycle of lice works.

The life cycle of head lice is shown in the picture above. A penny is used to show how big each stage is.

The head lice life cycle has three stages:

  • Egg or nit
  • Nymph
  • Adult louse

Louse Life Cycle

Head lice go through a few stages:

  • A mature or adult head louse can lay up to 10 eggs or nits each day.
  • The nits hatch in about seven to 12 days. Baby lice (nymphs) are about as big as a pinhead when they hatch but quickly grow into adult lice (in about seven days).
  • In just a few days, adult lice are ready to mate and start the cycle over again. Lice have a lifespan of three to four weeks.

Try not to worry if your child has lice. With the right treatment, you can stop the life cycle of the lice and get rid of the problem.


You can learn to spot lice and nits on your child’s head by looking at pictures of them.

If you know what head lice look like, you can also tell them apart from other things kids get. For example, flakes of dandruff are easy to mistake for head lice if you don’t know what to look for.

If you see lice eggs in your child’s hair, go ahead and pick them out. If they have live adult lice, you’ll need to kill them with a prescription or an over-the-counter (OTC) medicine. You might have to do these steps again and again until all of the lice are gone.


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