WHAT DO HEAD LICE LOOK LIKE

ABOUT HEAD LICE

Although there are many types of lice, the head louse, or pediculus humanus capitis, is a parasitic insect that can be found on the head and, more rarely, the eyebrows and eyelashes of people. Head lice (the plural form of louse) feed on human blood several times a day and live close to the scalp to maintain their body temperature.

PICTURES OF HEAD LICE

Select an image to learn more.

Lice on a Dime

An adult louse and a louse nymph (immature louse) on a dime. The adult is about the size of FDR’s ear, and the nymph can fit easily inside his ear. Although it is magnified a bit, it gives you a better sense of how big lice are compared to some of our other photos.

Head Louse Grabbing Two Strands of Hair

A head louse moving along two strands of hair. Notice how it wraps its claws around the hair shaft. Because lice don’t jump, they use their claws to move from the hair of one person to another during head-to-head contact.

Lice on Hair

This picture shows a number of dead lice on multiple strands of hair. It uses roughly the same magnification as the dime picture.

Nymphs to Adult

Four head lice, ranging from three sizes of nymphs to an adult.

Louse Nymph

This micrograph compares the size of a first-stage nymph with George Washington’s eye on a $1 bill.

Hatching Nymph

This micrograph (taken by Tabitha L. Allen) shows a nymph that apparently died while emerging from the casing of its egg.

Lice on a Dime

An adult louse and a louse nymph (immature louse) on a dime. The adult is about the size of FDR’s ear, and the nymph can fit easily inside his ear. Although it is magnified a bit, it gives you a better sense of how big lice are compared to some of our other photos.

Louse Nymph

This micrograph compares the size of a first-stage nymph with George Washington’s eye on a $1 bill.

Nymphs to Adult

Four head lice, ranging from three sizes of nymphs to an adult.

Lice on Hair

This picture shows a number of dead lice on multiple strands of hair. It uses roughly the same magnification as the dime picture.

Head Louse Grabbing Two Strands of Hair

A head louse moving along two strands of hair. Notice how it wraps its claws around the hair shaft. Because lice don’t jump, they use their claws to move from the hair of one person to another during head-to-head contact.

Hatching Nymph

This micrograph (taken by Tabitha L. Allen) shows a nymph that apparently died while emerging from the casing of its egg.

LICE FREE IN ONE HOUR

Lice life stages

Head lice come in three stages: egg, nymph, and adult. Eggs are often called lice nits, although many people refer to nits as the empty eggshells left behind by a hatched louse. 

Getting around

A head louse has six claws that allow it to crawl around from hair strand to hair strand. It can move from one head to another this way, which is why head-to-head contact is the primary way head lice are spread.

The origin

A head-lice infestation occurs when a female adult louse makes it onto a new head and lays eggs. When those eggs hatch, the lice will most likely stay on that head throughout the entire lice life cycle.

Unless the head is treated and all lice AND EGGS are eradicated, the lice infestation will continue. Lice will keep laying eggs and they will hatch to lay more eggs. If even one egg is missed the cycle doesn't end.

HOW TO SELF DIAGNOSE HEAD LICE

Get help

It can be hard to know if you have head lice. Since you can’t see your own scalp very easily, a head lice condition is hard to self-diagnose. The best thing to do is have someone check your head for you.

Where to look

After looking at lice pictures or lice videos, have someone carefully lift sections of your hair and look near the scalp. Head lice are also commonly found behind the ears, near the neckline, and at the base of the head.

Adult lice

Look for anything crawling through the hair. These would most likely be adult lice. They are about the size of a sesame seed and vary in color depending on when they last ate, from a grayish-white, tan, or reddish-brown. 

Lice eggs

Look at the hair strands within about a quarter inch (~0.5 cm) of the scalp. See if you can find lice eggs (called nits) attached to individual hairs. If you see any, try pulling them off with your fingers. Nits are extremely small and will be glued pretty securely to the hair. So if you can’t pull them off easily, they are probably eggs and not dandruff.

If you feel like something is crawling through your hair, those might be lice as well. And if your scalp gets red and itchy, you may be allergic to lice bites.

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We can’t wait to help you with our professional head lice removal mobile service in Bartlesville, OK, and surrounding areas!

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