What are nits? Nits are the eggs which are laid by head lice – eggs will eventually hatch into adult head lice which will bite the scalp of the person who the nits were laid upon, or possibly move onto the scalps of other people where they will be able to lay more nits. While head lice infest the scalp of the person who has them, the nits are not actually laid directly upon the scalp but are laid against the lower part of strands of hair. At the base of a strand of hair, the nit has the advantage of a better temperature as well as a little protection against both the elements and things which could otherwise scratch them off of the host.
Nits are unlikely to be removed by a standard comb, and may not come off of the hairs easily even when using a fine toothed lice comb. In many cases, the shaving of the head is recommended as a way to get rid of all of the nits on a person’s scalp, although it may not require such a drastic procedure. In some mild cases of head lice it may be possible to remove all of the lice simply by using a shampoo or conditioner with an anti-lice chemical. You need to keep in mind that even if there is immediate relief from using the chemical as a result of killing the adult lice, the treatment must be continued so that the nits do not hatch later and cause the head lice problem to return.
How can you tell if someone has nits on their scalp? Since nits are very tiny – even smaller than the adult head lice that they hatch into – you are going to want to use a magnifying glass and a strong source of light. The nits will be of a light brown / pale color, and will be located close to the skin, near the lower end of the strands of hair. You may be able to see nits with the unaided eye if you look closely enough, but it is recommended to use whatever kind of help that you can to get the best view and the best chance of confirming whether or not the nits have been successfully removed.
A female head louse will lay somewhere between fifty and one hundred and fifty nits over the course of a four week life, which means that removing the nits individually is likely to be just a waste of time. Once the nits hatch, the lice which result will originally be in a nymph stage. They will progress through a number of stages as a nymph before differentiating into males and females, which will then mate, leading to new nits and the next generation. Each of the stages in the life of a louse after it has hatched from a nit involves sucking the blood of its host, so the nit stage is the only part of the louse’s life cycle which does not give rise to the itching and irritation that are associated with head lice.