You’ve just received information that one of your child’s friends has head lice, and so you frantically grab the nearest flashlight and rat-tail comb and begin to inspect your child’s head. But then you realize that you are unsure what lice look like. Are the brownish dots you see head lice? Is that flakiness just a result of a dry scalp? What about those translucent ovular tubes that you notice on the comb—is it lice or just some sort of scalp debris? For most parents, uncertainty in identifying a lice case adds to the already stressful situation of your child potentially having lice. Below we’ll describe what lice looks like in hair, as well as some commonly found scalp debris.
Adult lice are about the size of a sesame seed, and they have six legs and no wings. They are usually brownish with their color ranging from a pale sandy color to yellowy, grey-brown or dark brown.
Nits or lice eggs are just as essential to identify as live lice are. This is because even if you identify and kill adult lice if nits remain, they will hatch and “re-infest” your child. Nits have translucent outer casings that house baby lice inside. The nymphs are brown, and so nits will appear brown when placed against a white background. Each nit is round on one side and pointy on the other with a tail-like antenna coming out of the pointy end. Look for something about the size of a sesame seed and close to the scalp rather than farther down the length of the hair. It is possible to identify nits in your child’s hair, but don’t feel bad if you have trouble; they are often difficult to recognize to the untrained eye and often require professional technicians or medical personnel to spot them.
Hair casts, which are also called pseudo nits, are thin, elongated, and white tubes that are found along the hair. Because most people assume that nits are white, hair casts are often mistaken for nits. If you see these narrow and cylinder-shaped white tubes along your child’s hair shaft, rest assured that they are not lice, but rather a normal hair concretion.
DEC Plugs or desquamated epithelial cells occur when oil glands in the scalp become overly active to compensate for the drying effect of chemical treatments. They are white, irregularly shaped pieces of fat, and completely harmless. They are distinguishable from nits because of their white color and their positioning.
Fresh Heads Lice Removal
Understanding the warning signs of lice is essential to avoiding a long-lasting outbreak. When you know what you are looking for, coming in for treatment starts earlier. Fresh Heads Lice Removal wants to keep you, your children, and your family lice-free for the years to come. If you are a resident in Orlando, FL, Jacksonville, FL, or Savannah, GA, contact our offices today.
Schools Without Lice
At Fresh Heads Lice Removal, our goal is to eradicate lice in schools across the country. We have partnered with Lice Clinics of America to create the Schools Without Lice program, which supports our nurses and teachers with free resources, screenings, and treatments. Let’s take another step toward lice-free schools!