How to check live from dead nits?
At Happy Heads Clinic one of the questions that parents often ask is: how can I check the live nits of the "dead" ones?
In order for there to be an active infestation of lice, there must be live lice and/or nits, as this is the only way they can thrive and infect other children.
What are nits?
Nits are the eggs of lice. They are very small, the size of a sesame seed, and are firmly attached to the hair strands.
Nits have a shiny appearance and may appear white, especially on dark hair. But most lice eggs are not white, they range from golden to dark brown depending on how close they are to hatching.
How to identify "dead" from "live" nits?
When lice lay eggs in hair strands, the eggs are two colors – usually a golden hue with a dark brown dot inside. The dark dot inside the egg is a small louse inside the egg.
As the louse inside the nit grows and matures, the nit will appear darker and darker until it turns dark brown, almost black. The very dark nits are about to hatch, i.e. the louse is about to come out of the nit's shell.
After hatching (the louse has come out of the nit) the eggshell remains on the hair shaft. Lice eggs that are left after the insect hatches, are empty, soon they will look white or translucent because all you can see is the shell or casing without any insects inside. It's similar to a chicken's egg, after opening the egg and removing the inside, all that's left is a white shell.
Nits - Information to Retain!
White/light nits = are empty, it's just shell= no danger!
When the nits hatch, the lice come out leaving the shell that becomes translucent/white. Unfortunately, these shells, as they are "glued" to the hair strands, do not fall off. As they are empty, ie there are no insects inside, they are no longer a threat.
Dark nits = with lice inside = dangerous!
When lice eggs are first laid, they are a light golden color, but as the louse in the egg grows, it becomes increasingly darker. When lice eggs are dark brown or black they are about to hatch!
In this image we find:
a "live" nit (A) ie with the louse inside it, therefore darker;
a "dead" nit (B) that is, it is an empty nit, only the shell, without the louse inside because it has already left, so it is almost transparent white in color.
Unfortunately, you cannot see if the lice eggs are alive or dead. What can be verified is whether they have hatched (the louse has already left the nit, with only the shell remaining) or not.
If in doubt, remove all the nits from the hair, it only takes 2 lice eggs (1 male and 1 female) for lice to reappear! Not forgetting that the products unfortunately do not eliminate nits, the only way to remove them is using a good lice comb!