What Do Nits Look Like?

Nit infestations are a common and frustrating problem for parents and kids. Unfortunately, some kids get treated inappropriately and unnecessarily for things that look like lice, but

What do nits look like?

These head lice pictures can help you to identify when your child has live lice on their head. You usually only need to treat your child with a lice shampoo when you see live lice.1 If you only see nits and are sure there are no live lice, you can just be careful to remove all of the nits.

Nits are the eggs of lice. Nits are small, oval-shaped, usually a yellowish-white color, and are firmly attached to the side of hair shafts.

Simply having nits does not necessarily mean that your child has live lice, though, since some nits may be empty egg casings and some may have dead, non-infective lice embryos inside.

Nits that are close to your child's scalp are the ones that are most likely to be infective and are the ones that are thought to hatch into live lice, a process that takes six to nine days.2 

Continuing to get new nits even after you have removed nits from your child's hair is also a likely sign that your child has live lice and needs nit treatment.

A live louse will typically lay up to eight eggs a day,2 so if your child only has a few nits, then they likely don't have an active lice infestation.