Below are pictures of nits (lice eggs), which are the signs that we are looking for. The actual louse is hard to see because they move really fast and blend in. When you try to look again it’s gone.
Picture 1 Picture 2
Picture 1 is how nits may look on some really light hair (they appear like black oval dots). Picture 2 is also light hair but the nits have the color that we are all used to seeing, (which is a pearly colored oval shaped nit). Picture 3 is how a nit looks on an individual hair strand. Picture 4 and 5 are what they look on darker hair.
Please note that the pictures show a lot of nits on the head and will not be the case when spotting a nit(s) on our children. Lastly, lots of us have dandruff. If it is white, flaky and moves it is NOT a nit. Nits do not move. Run your fingers through the individual hair strand and you will feel a bump and still see it in the same place.
Top: Picture 4 Bottom: Picture 5
Lice live for up to 30 days and each louse can lay up to 10 eggs (“nits”) per day. They lay the eggs on individual hair strands very close to the scalp with a sticky glue substance (think crazy glue).
These eggs take about a week to hatch. Once hatched they go through 3 nymph stages and take about a week to become an adult. The nymphs and adult need our human blood to survive.
Lice do not have wings so therefore they cannot fly, jump or hop from one head to another. They are very small and very fast. The adult louse is about the size of a grain of rice or a sesame seed.
Lice and eggs are visible, with the eggs being easier to spot.
If a head louse falls off a head they do not live for long. Off the head they can live up to two days. The nymphs live for several hours and the nits under certain circumstances can hatch but will need a human host to survive.
Head Lice Indicators
Your child tells you that their head is itchy.
It is normal to itch but if you notice your child scratching their head more than once within a small time space this could be a sign.
Rash at the nape of the neck and behind the ears.
In some cases, swollen lymph nodes.
Note that there are some people who report no symptoms at all
How does Head Lice Spread?
The most common way to contract head lice is through head to head contact. You can contract head lice through the sharing of brushes, combs, hats and pretty much anything that comes in contact with the head.
If you suspect head lice on your child’s head, have your child sit under a bright light or even go outdoors, (do not attempt to check under poor lighting). You want to check in small sections throughout your child’s head. Don’t forget to check the nape of the neck.
When checking your child’s head you want to identify the eggs. They are easier to see because the lice are very good at blending in with your child’s head plus they hide away from light.
Eggs resemble dandruff. Except dandruff is very white and it is flaky and flakes away. The eggs do not move, they are stuck on the individual hair strand (see pictures above). If you find something that looks like a nit and it doesn’t move and the only way to remove it is to take your nails and drag it out then that is a pretty good indication that it is a nit.
If you do find lice / eggs first thing: DON’T PANIC, lice is more common than you think.
Every member in your household should be checked and parents do not forget to have someone check you.
Decide on a plan of action: How do you plan to eliminate head lice.
If you plan on using the over the counter medicine please note: They do not work 100%.
Invest in a really good metal lice comb.
Take all the necessary measures in your home. Concentrate on all things that came in contact with the head. Wash and dry those items.
One thing to note is that they are not everywhere in your house. They are called head lice because they live on the head, washing and drying items are precautions that should be taken to ensure that you don’t get them back.
Strong Suggestion: Please tell your child’s teacher and tell your family and friends who have come in recent contact with your child / family.
If your family get head lice it becomes your problem and you should take responsibility and inform people not only because it is the right thing to do but to ensure that lice don’t come back.
Lice get contracted from your close contacts, and if your child has head lice then there is a good chance that their friends have it too.
Last note to keep in mind is lice can happen to anybody regardless of hair color and hair type, they prefer clean hair but doesn’t necessarily mean that they will stay out of dirty hair.