Facts about nits: What you need to know about head lice eggs

Lice are the crawlers and nits are the eggs. An adult female head louse can lay up to 10 eggs a day. She lives for 30 days – so that’s 300 eggs from one louse in a month. It is therefore important to know all the facts about nits, including what they look like, and how to remove them, so you can put an end to an infestation and keep your child or children head lice free.

How can you tell if you have nits?

So, how do you know if there are nit eggs in hair? Nits are teardrop-shaped, laid close to the root of the hair and are glued firmly onto the hair shaft. Fresh eggs are a golden-brown colour and are plump and shiny before they hatch. Hatched or empty eggs are white and flat. As the hair grows the eggs are further down the hair shaft. It is important to look out for both brown nits and their white eggs. 

Can you check or pull out lice eggs or nits with your fingers?

If you want to check it with the pads of your fingers you will feel the hard eggs, especially if you have a lot, but you cannot remove them just by touching them – instead, you have to use your fingernails to pull them off because the glue that attaches them is very strong and keeps them firmly attached to the hair shaft. You can pop a full egg with your nails once you have detached it from the hair.

Can lice lay eggs in your skin?

Lice cannot lay their eggs in your skin. Lice only attach their eggs to the hair on your head because the eggs take their nourishment from the hair itself. They need to feed off it to grow and develop. It is the lice that come out of the eggs once they have matured, that feed off your blood.

How long do the nits take to develop and hatch?

Nits generally take between seven to eleven days to develop and hatch. This changes when an infestation is very heavy as the lice adapt and change their developmental patterns to fight for survival and supremacy. Then the nits can take between thirteen to fifteen days to develop and hatch.

Are lice eggs soft or hard?

When lice lay their eggs, they lay invisible sacks of liquid. These are so soft that they squish unharmed through the nit comb. It is only as the embryo develops do you then see the egg or nit. That nit becomes hard protecting the embryo inside. When you pull them off the hair you can pop the hard shell of the nit – if it pops you know the egg was viable and ready to hatch.

The lice eggs can trick you

Many people will give their child a thorough nit comb to the point that they cannot see any more lice or nit eggs in the hair and so assume that their child is then clear of the infestation. However, because when lice lay their eggs, they lay invisible sacks of liquid there will be eggs you cannot see yet and those eggs will be coming through – they just aren’t visible yet. Because of this, you need to nit comb more frequently than once a week. When you discover an infestation, you should be nit combing each day for 3 days and then every 2 days after that to pick up all the eggs coming through, to target not just the more obvious, brown nits. 

How do you get lice eggs out of the hair?

The most effective way to remove lice or nit eggs in hair is to use a long-toothed metal nit comb. You need to nit comb thoroughly, section by section so you don’t miss any of them. Apply some conditioner to the hair so you can get the metal nit comb through the hair easily. Wipe the nit comb on some tissue as you work and bin that as you remove the eggs. The nit comb needs to touch the scalp and be taken all the way down the hair shaft and out at the ends of the hair to get the nits out effectively. White plastic nit combs will not get the eggs out of the hair.

What does a lice egg on a finger look like?

Once you have taken a lice egg or nit off the hair shaft using your fingernail have a good look at it – it is tear drop shaped and has a little tail which is the part of the egg that attaches itself to the hair. They are very small and will be a dark golden-brown colour if they are about to hatch or are white if the louse has already hatched and left the egg. If they are full then they will be plump and shiny. What does a dead lice egg look like? A dead lice egg will be white or grey. As they are empty, they will be flat and dry.

Had enough of trying to get all the eggs out of the hair?

If after reading all these facts about nits, you are still unsure whether you have nits and want a professional check, or if you have found nit eggs in your hair and need it all cleared out, then do contact us. Our network of nit and head lice removal clinics can sort it for you in 2 appointments, 7 days apart.

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