What is a Nit?
When it comes to recognizing nits, parents and school nurses alike often suffer the consequence of a lack of detection or mistaken identity—and head lice prevail.
For the untrained eye, it can be extremely difficult to tell the difference between a nit and other common hair debris. DEC plugs (desquamated epithelial cells) and hair casts are two types of common hair debris that are often misdiagnosed as nits.
DEC plugs occur when oil glands in the scalp work to compensate for the drying effects of chemical treatments. They are bright, white, irregularly shaped clumps of fat cells stuck to individual hairs. A hair cast is a thin, elongated, cylinder-shaped segment of dandruff that wraps around the hair shaft (like a cast). Hair casts are sticky, and if you try to remove one, it will just fall apart in your fingers.
In contrast, a nit is a smooth, oval shaped structure, which is attached to the side of the hair shaft like a leaf on a stem. Nits, or eggs, vary in color and are actually camouflaged in accordance with hair color. They are smaller than a sesame seed and are always the same shape; they are never irregular, fuzzy, or encircling the hair.
A nit is stuck onto a hair shaft by a type of glue that lice produce. Nits are not easily removed and cannot be blown off of, or shaken out of the hair. Happyheads® Bye-Bye Lice Nontoxic Treatment Shampoo will loosen the glue that binds nits to the hair shafts. Happyheads will make the dubious task of combing (nitpicking) easier and more effective, saving you time and anxiety!
Nits are most often laid very close to the scalp so they can incubate. They tend to accumulate behind the ears and at the nape, where it is dark and warm. Nits take 5–7 days to hatch. When the baby bug (nymph) emerges from the egg, it leaves the empty shell still attached to the hair shaft. If you see a shell that looks more white than brown and is flaccid, it is empty and harmless.
To check for nits, find a spot with bright light. Magnifying glasses are recommended. Divide the hair into sections and look thoroughly. Watch a video to learn how to check for nits.
Nothing kills nits in the hair except for dry heat. Blow-drying hair—on the hottest setting possible—and flat ironing can kill nits.
The most thorough way to get rid of nits is by combing. Use Happyheads® Bye-Bye Lice Combing Solution and a metal nit comb to remove nits from the hair. Start with the nit comb close to the scalp, and pull it all the way down and off the ends of the hair shafts in order to dislodge the eggs. Watch a lice and nit removal video.
If nits are detected, use Happyheads Bye-Bye Lice Nontoxic Treatment Shampoo every three days for two full weeks, and remove as many nits as possible during this period.