Dead vs Live Nits: Color of Lice Eggs

Image of a woman with brown hair that has multiple hatched and unhatched lice eggs.

Loaded with pictures, discover the different colors of lice eggs and how you can determine the difference between live and dead nits in the hair.

One of the most misunderstood things about lice is what lice eggs look like. More specifically, what color are lice eggs and how can you know if they are dead or not. Whether you’re checking your child for lice or are trying to determine if what you’re seeing is dead or live nits, you’ll find the answers here.

To start off let's get something straight.

Lice eggs and nits are the same thing.

Don't make this more complicated then it needs to be. The two words will be used interchangeably in this article.

Parents around the world are all asking me the same question….

This article discusses the following:

Color/Appearance of Lice Eggs
Super Lice Eggs
Color of Dead Lice Eggs
How To Remove Dead Lice Eggs from Hair
Live vs. Dead Lice Eggs
How Long Dead Nits Stay in Hair

Again, if you are new to lice, lice eggs and nits are the same things. The two words will be used interchangeably in this article.

 

Why Is It So Hard to Get Rid of Lice?

Before moving on to lice eggs, I want to answer the question that I get asked by parents around the world that have been battling lice…"Why is it so much harder to get rid of lice now?"

Lice have become immune to everything that used to work in the past. Perhaps you remember your mom using a typical lice treatment or mayonnaise and that doing the trick. The new strain of head lice is no longer killed by those treatments, that’s why lice today are termed by people, “super lice,” because they are immune to those treatments. 

I’ve cured thousands of people of lice in my lice center and let me tell you, I don't do it with over-the-counter lice treatments. 

Most people struggle with lice because they focus all of their attention on killing lice bugs and not enough attention on GETTING RID OF LICE!

If you want to get rid of lice you have to address all 3 of the problems of lice:

  1. Lice Bugs
  2. Lice Eggs
  3. Getting Lice Back

The best way to get rid of lice is to tackle all 3 of these problems at the same time, which is what I teach in Get Rid of Lice Like A Pro.

Most People Make 3 BIG Mistakes!

stop sign and watch (1)

If your child has lice then be sure that you're not making these 3 big mistakes.

Be sure to WATCH THE VIDEO above and learn the biggest mistakes parents make when it comes to discovering lice and exactly what to do.

Here are the links I mentioned in the video:

  1. How to Check For Lice Tutorial
  2. House Cleaning For Lice Checklist
  3. How to Get Rid of Lice Like A Pro

What Do Lice Eggs Look Like?

A lice egg (nit) is attached to a hair strand. A finger in behind the nit and a white arrow points at the nit.

Lice eggs are tiny (about the size of a poppyseed), and they blend in pretty well with hair. If you aren’t looking closely, you are likely to miss them. Lice eggs and dandruff are often mistaken for one another, but some of the key differences are that lice eggs are tear-drop shaped and glued to the side of the hair strand.

The tell-tale sign that what you are finding is a nit is that a nit cannot be flicked, blown, or brushed away. Aside from a high-quality lice comb, the only way to remove a lice egg from the hair strand is to squeeze it between two fingers and manually drag it down the entire hair strand.

side-by-side images of blond girl's hair. Three circles identify the hot spots that lice usually lay lice eggs (nits)

You will find lice eggs in the “hot spots” of the head. These hot spots are the places that lice like to lay their eggs the most. They are behind both ears, the nape of the neck, and the crown of the head.

What Color Are Lice Eggs? 

A common misunderstanding is that nits are white. Nits have a shiny appearance and can appear white, especially in dark hair. But most lice eggs are not white. They vary in color from light golden to dark brown, depending on how close they are to hatching.

An uclose picture of an unhatched lice egg (nit). The nit is attached to the side of a brown hair strand and is golden in color.

Golden

When lice lay their eggs on a hair strand, the eggs are two-toned--often a golden color with a dark brown circle inside. The dark circle on the inside of the egg is a small lice bug growing inside the egg. 

A brown/black lice egg (nit) attached to the side of a brown hair strand.

Brown/Black

Over the next few days, that lice bug grows inside the egg. As it matures and grows inside, the nit will appear darker and darker until it seems completely brown, almost black. These very dark nits are the nits that are just about to hatch.

Over a black backdrop, a golden colored lice is emerging from its egg (nit). The lice egg (nit) is attached to a blond hair strand.

Hatching

Most lice hatch somewhere between 1-2 weeks, but this can vary greatly depending on climate and other factors.

An up close image of a hatched lice egg (nit) attached to the side of a blond hairstrand. The lice egg (nit) appears to be white/transparent in color.

Transparent/White

After the lice bug hatches out of the egg, the eggshell remains on the hair strand. Lice eggs left over after the bug has hatched will appear to be white or translucent because all you see leftover is a shell or casing with no bug inside.

Similar to a chicken egg, after you crack open the egg and remove the insides, all you have left is a white shell.

Super Lice

Up close image of a super lice bug. Lice have six legs attached to their abdomen. The lice appears golden brown/translucent in color. Its dark stomach can be seen through its shell. The lice is attached to a blonde hairstrand.

Super lice and regular head lice are virtually the same bugs, except super lice has mutations that make them (and their eggs) much more difficult to kill. Recent studies show that 98% of head lice are now super lice. These days, most lice treatments simply do not kill lice or prevent lice eggs from hatching. 

Read more about super lice here.

Regular Lice Eggs vs. Super Lice Eggs

An image of the contential united states. The background is blue and the states are red. The words "super lice spreads to 48 states" is superimposed on the image.

Like the adult bugs, super lice eggs look similar to regular head lice eggs. The difference is that lice eggs from 30 years ago without the super lice mutation could be affected by pesticides, that might prevent them from hatching. These treatments do not harm today’s super lice eggs. Pesticides cannot kill them, and they will continue to hatch!

If you focus only on killing lice and not removing eggs, you will not get rid of super lice because new super lice will continue to hatch from the eggs that you didn’t remove from the head. And, to make matters worse, each generation of super lice will be stronger than the last.

What Color Are Dead Lice Eggs?

Many people wonder if lice eggs change color after they die. Unfortunately, many people believe that dark brown lice eggs are dead, and do not remove them from the head. The opposite is true. The darker the lice egg, the closer it is to hatching. If you find dark lice eggs in the hair, then you can plan on those eggs hatching within just a day or two.

You’ll find a lot of products advertising “kills lice eggs,” but don’t be fooled by these gimmicks. There is no lice treatment (except the How to Get Rid of Lice Like a Pro! Online Course) that’ll kill all of the lice eggs on your child’s head. Over the years, both lice and lice eggs have developed resistance to all treatments.

If you rely on one of those treatments to kill lice eggs for you, then you’ll be stuck in a cycle like this...

Super lice is a mutant strain of head lice spreading throughout the world, particularly in the US and Canada. Discover what they are and how to kill them…

You kill all the lice. You think you’ve gotten rid of everything, but you leave a few lice eggs in the hair. Those lice eggs hatch within a few days, and, shortly, those lice begin laying eggs. Within a few weeks, you have a full infestation all over again. You go around and around in this circle of “getting lice back” from yourself.

What's the FASTEST Way To Get Rid of Lice?

The purpose of My Lice Advice is to help parents get rid of lice as fast as possible. And the fastest way to get rid of lice is to get rid of lice in one day, no re-treatments. This is how lice professionals like myself get rid of lice in lice centers. Most people assume that lice professionals use some kind of crazy strong lice product or something. But the truth is that's not how lice professionals get rid of lice so fast....

When I treat lice in my lice center I don't use any toxic chemicals or special treatments. In fact, you can do a professional lice treatment at home without buying any lice products. I teach parents how to do this professional technique on their children at home, on my page Get Rid of Lice Like A Pro!

In Get Rid of Lice Like A Pro! you learn how to get rid of lice in less than a day by doing what the pro's do. You'll tackle all three problems of lice: lice bugs, lice eggs, and getting lice back, at the same time.

Then lice is gone permanently- there are no re-treatments, and no messing around with lice kits. You do the professional  technique on your child at home, you kill all of the lice and the lice eggs in one session and then you're done with lice. 

That's the FASTEST and MOST EFFECTIVE way to get rid of lice. You can learn how to do it by clicking here.

Live vs. Dead Lice Eggs

Two lice eggs (nits) are attached to different hair strands. The top lice egg is not hatched and is golden brown in color. The hatched lice egg is transparent/white.

Instead of thinking about live vs. dead lice eggs, you should think hatched vs. unhatched.

Lice eggs that have already hatched will be transparent/translucent in color and usually appear white in the hair. These nits no longer have lice inside of them, so they are not a threat. Unhatched or “viable” nits have color to them, they begin golden brown and then become darker the closer they are to hatching.

It is nearly impossible to tell the difference between hatched and unhatched nits on the entire head with the naked eye. In the How to Get Rid of Lice Like a Pro! Online Course you will kill and remove all lice eggs, hatched, and unhatched.

How Do You Know If Nits Are Dead?

Unfortunately, because lice eggs do not change in appearance once they die, there is no way to know if nits are dead or alive until they hatch. Do you want to wait around and “see” if the lice eggs hatch or not? I don’t think so. The best thing to do is to kill and remove all of them to prevent them from hatching. The How to Get Rid of Lice Like a Pro! Online Course covers all of this in detail.

How Long Can Dead Nits Stay in Hair?

A woman's hair (brown) with white lice eggs in the hair. This woman has a serious infestation and has had lice for 3 years.

Potentially, dead nits can stay in the hair forever. Once lice glue a lice egg to the hair strand, it will not come off unless removed from the hair. Lice eggs stick to the hair, so eventually, over time, they will move from near the scalp to further down the hair strand as the hair grows over the years. But, they will never fall out! Here is a picture of a girl who had lice for 3 years. Notice the dark brown unhatched/viable lice eggs are close to her scalp, and the white, already hatched lice eggs go all the way down her hair.

Also, lice eggs become more challenging to remove the longer they are in the hair, not less complicated. They start to decay and “break down” overtime on the hair strand, which seems to make them stick better to the hair strand.

I know it’s difficult and overwhelming to get all of those little lice eggs out of your child’s hair, especially if she has had it for some time, I show how to do it in detail in the How to Get Rid of Lice Like a Pro! Online Course

Summing It Up:

Generally speaking, “live,” or unhatched nits are golden/brown/ or black. They become darker the closer they are to hatching. Hatched eggs, usually appear translucent and can look white in the hair. It is nearly impossible for someone to determine whether they are finding live or dead nits when looking through the hair.

Lice treatments and home remedies do not kill lice eggs. The only thing that kills lice eggs is the How to Get Rid of Lice Like a Pro! Online Course which is why it’s guaranteed to get rid of lice in ONE DAY without needing any retreatments.

All the best,

Theresa, My Lice Advice

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Theresa is a lice expert with years of experience curing children of lice. She currently works with government agencies and non-profit organizations to help children with the most severe head lice infestations in the US.

Originally trained as a Registered Nurse, she changed specialties to study lice. Later, she opened a lice treatment center where she perfected the PRO technique she teaches in the Get Rid of Lice Like A Pro online course. She now works helping those struggling with lice around the world.

She is the creator of MyLiceAdvice.com, one of the top lice informational websites in the world and she teaches parents around the world how to get rid of lice in less than a day in the Get Rid of Lice Like a Pro online course.

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