What Does Lice Look Like?

Adult Head Lice

What do lice look like? We’ll tell you what they look like and also show you some pictures of head lice and their eggs, often referred to as nits, so you can recognize them if you see them.

You might think you’d notice right away if you had lice in your hair, but the truth is, they are very tiny and can be difficult to see. You’ll probably notice your head is very itchy, especially at night, but you may not see any lice unless you look carefully for them. Here is how to properly check for head lice.

If you’re experiencing severe itchiness but don’t see any lice, talk to your doctor or make an appointment with a dermatologist to find out what’s causing your symptoms. If you discover some other sort of insect, contact your doctor right away for advice.

What Does Lice Look Like?

So, what does lice look like? Well, it depends on the stage of their life cycle.

Adult lice are about the size of a sesame seed. They are about the color of a sesame seed, too, tan or light brown. They may appear to be darker in color when on dark hair. Like all insects, they have six legs. They have claw-like feet that they use to hold onto the hair. 

Lice can be found on the hair or on the skin of the scalp. Much less often, they can be found on eyebrows or eyelashes as well as on the hair on the head. Occasionally they can also be seen crawling on clothing, hair accessories, or hair care items like a comb that has recently been used.

Lice do not jump or fly but they crawl very fast and can be difficult to see because they move away so quickly. You can best see them under a bright light.  This picture of head lice shows you what they look like.

Adult Lice and Nymphs

Nymphs, or juvenile lice, look like adult lice, only smaller. It only takes nine to 12 days for them to mature into adult lice, so they grow very quickly.

Lice eggs, frequently called nits, are very tiny, oval in shape, and about the size of a knot in a piece of thread. They may look yellow, tan, or light brown, and like adult lice, may appear darker in color when seen on dark hair.  

Nits will be attached to individual hairs close to the scalp. They will seem to be glued or cemented to the hair and will be difficult to remove. They are often mistaken for dandruff or even droplets of hair spray, but dandruff and other debris are easily brushed away.  As with adult lice, nits are easiest to see under a bright light.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website explains that once the eggs have hatched, they will look clear and may be found further away from the scalp. Empty eggs will usually be easier to remove from the hair.

Note that head lice are only found on humans, not pets. If you see small insects on your pets, you’re probably looking at fleas, not lice. Talk to your veterinarian.

How do You Get Rid of Lice?

Now that you know what lice look like, you probably want to know how to get rid of them if you find them. We suggest using the Fairy Tales Lice Good-bye Lice Removal Kit. We like it because it’s non-toxic and contains no chemical pesticides with potentially harmful side effects. It’s also available without a prescription and is easy to use. Of course, the most important thing is that it works! To learn more about the Fairy Tales Lice Good-bye Lice Removal Kit, just follow the link.

CDC: Lice