What are Nits?

Nits Signal Lice Infestation

Nits are lice eggs. They are extremely small, oval in shape, and get firmly glued by female lice to the hair strands of infected individuals. Nits can be found on the first half inch of hair shafts close to the roots – most commonly at the nape of the neck and behind the ears. Nits may be yellow or white in color, although they sometimes blend with darker hair colors.

It takes about eight or nine days for lice eggs to hatch. After hatching, the remaining shell looks white or clear and stays firmly attached to the hair shaft. This is when it's easiest to spot lice, as the hair is growing longer and the egg shell is moving away from the scalp.

The medical term for a head lice infestation is pediculosis humanus capitis. While anyone who has hair can get lice, contracting the condition is much more common among school-age children. Pediculosis is the second most common communicable disease affecting school children after the common cold.

Lice spread by literally crawling from one head to another or when infected individuals share clothing items (hats and scarves) or grooming tools, such as combs or brushes. Getting hair lice has nothing to do with how clean one’s living environment is or how well a person attends to personal hygiene. Routine screening for lice and early detection are the best and only prevention. Pesticides should not be used to prevent head lice.