What does head lice look like? How can you tell if you have head lice, body lice or pubic lice? Is that bug crawling in your hair really a louse, or is it a harmless insect from outside?
Lice can be found in your hair in three different forms: as nits, nymphs and adult lice. You'll need to know how to identify lice in all three forms if you are to properly diagnose a case of head lice.
Nits are lice eggs. They look like pieces of sand or dandruff at first, but if you look with a magnifying glass, you'll see they are like miniature pussy willow buds that are attached to the hair shafts. You can tell the difference between sand or dandruff in the hair and nits by trying to brush the objects out of the hair. If the items are easily brushed out, they are not nits. If they remain solidly attached to the individual hair strands, you're dealing with lice eggs.
Baby lice are called nymphs. They are tiny at first and are light gray or tan in color. They manage to look darker when on a darker scalp and lighter on a light-colored scalp. They must feed on blood, so they bite your head over and over again, moving from spot to spot. They have six legs, but chances are you won't even see many nymphs or get to look closely enough at one to find this out. You might just see some sort of movement in your hair and realize you've got lice.
Adult lice look like baby lice, but they about the size of a poppy seed. They can live for a month on a person's scalp, but will die within two days if off a person.
What Type of Lice?
If you find lice or nits on your scalp, you probably have head lice. If you are getting an itchy rash on your body and find nits and lice in your bedding or clothing, you probably have body lice. If you find lice, nits and an itchy rash in your genital area, you have pubic lice. Check with specific remedy suggestions for your particular kind of lice.
Not sure what the telltale signs of lice are? Make sure you check out this primer on identifying different types of lice.
Need to know what body lice looks like? If you suspect you might have body lice, but aren't sure, check out this checklist.
Perhaps you've heard about using mayonnaise to treat head lice. Read this article for the whole scoop.