Nits But No Lice & Lice But No Nits

A woman scratching her head

Lice and nits, they go hand in hand, right? At least that’s what you’ve always heard. But, now you’re looking through your child’s head, and you are only finding one or the other.

How can this be? Can someone have nits, but not have lice? What about the opposite- Can you find lice in your hair, but not have any lice eggs? Discover the answers to these questions:

Nits But No Lice

Lice But No Lice Eggs

If you are new to lice, lice eggs and nits are the same thing. This article uses these two words will interchangeably.

A confused woman holding a phone

Lice, But No Lice Eggs (Nits)

How about finding lice bugs without finding any nits, is that possible? Yes, there are 3 reasons you may discover lice, but no lice eggs.

3 Reasons Why...

Reason #1- Lice Eggs are Tiny

Female lice lay 6-10 lice eggs a day, so it’s pretty uncommon for there to not be any lice eggs in the hair. More common is that people just don’t see them. Lice eggs are tiny, the size of a poppyseed. Although people usually think that they are white, they typically blend in well with hair. They can be golden, dark brown, or translucent, depending on how close they are to hatching. 

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

The best places to search for lice eggs are behind the ears, the nape of the neck, and the crown of the head. These places are called “hot spots” and are the places that lice like to lay their eggs the most.

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

Reason #2- Good Catch

A lice bug held by tweezers

It is possible to find only one or two lice in your child’s hair if she just caught it, and the bugs haven’t had enough time to lay their eggs. The chances of that being the case are pretty small because most people don’t have any symptoms like itching until they’ve had lice for at least a month. But, if you were lucky enough to catch lice that early, then count your blessings.

Reason #3- Male Lice

Only female lice lay eggs, not male lice. If the only bugs in the hair were male and not female, then that would explain not finding any lice eggs

Lice, But No Lice Eggs, Treatment Plan

It's possible that you are only dealing with lice bugs, but just 1 missed egg will cause you weeks and months of frustration as you will never get rid of lice eggs with any treatment. The big question is...

Do you want to KILL LICE or GET RID OF LICE???

Because there’s a big difference! Killing lice today, does NOT get rid of lice. If you focus all of your energy on killing lice bugs, you will NEVER get rid of lice! 

Heres why...

When you have lice you have 2 problems, lice bugs, and lice eggs. Often people focus all of their attention on lice bugs, but neglect the much bigger problem- LICE EGGS! Some people don't see lice eggs, but if you're seeing multiple lice bugs then you have a 99% chance there are lice eggs as well. Those eggs are full of little lice bugs, just waiting to hatch and start this whole lice cycle all over again! That’s why you keep getting lice back!

In Get Rid of Lice Like A Pro you'll learn how to get rid of lice and lice eggs at the same time.

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. And it's 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.

Nits, But No Lice

Can you have nits, but never have lice? Well, it goes back to that time-old question: “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”

In the case of head lice, LICE bugs always come first. Lice eggs cannot just “fall” into hair, because they are glued to the hair strand by female lice when they lay them. The only way to have lice eggs in the hair is for a lice bug to have been in your hair at one time.

However, it is possible to have nits and not have lice bugs in the hair at this time.

5 Reasons Why...

Reason #1- Pseudonits

Nits vs. Pseudonits

I know most people don’t want to hear this, but the most common reason to find nits in the hair and no lice is that what you are seeing are not lice eggs, it's pseudonits. It is EXTREMELY common, and it’s because there are a few very normal scalp conditions that look almost identical to nits in the hair. These scalp conditions are often called “pseudonits.” The word “pseudo” means “false” or “pretend.” So, the term “pseudonits” basically means “pretend nits.”

The most common of these conditions that are confused with lice eggs is DEC Plugs/Hair Casts.

DEC Plugs

Image of DEC Plugs which are a form of dandruff on a woman's head

DEC Plugs are a form of dandruff that wraps around the hair and “stick” on one strand, but unlike nits, these move smoothly up and down the hair strand. DEC Plugs are commonly confused with lice eggs because they also seem to “stick” on the hair strand. The difference between DEC Plugs and nits, however, is that DEC Plugs quickly move up and down the strand of hair, but lice eggs do not move smoothly on the hair strand. Here’s a video of a DEC plug moving up and down the hair strand smoothly.

Two fingers move a form of dandruff (DEC Plug) easily up and down a hairstrand

Hair casts are very similar, except they are longer and cylindrical and wrap around the hair shaft. You can learn more about the difference between these types of hair conditions and lice eggs in the article Lice vs Dandruff- 7 Key Differences.

Reason #2- They’re Tiny and Invisible

A translucent/blond lice bug camouflaging in blond hair

Although adult head lice are about the size of a sesame seed, baby lice (nymphs) are teeny tiny, about the size of the period at the end of this sentence. These newly hatch lice are almost invisible to the naked eye, even if you have excellent vision.

To make matters worse, when lice are first born, they are translucent and blend in with the hair. If you just do a look through the hair, the chances of you seeing one are extremely rare. Can you spot the bug in this picture?

Lice are experts at blending in, so you usually don’t find them until after you’ve killed them if you’ve used a lice treatment (be sure you’re using a super lice treatment, because most lice today don’t die with a regular lice treatment).

Reason #3-Came and Left

It is possible that a female louse came onto the head, laid a few eggs, and then left. Or, that she came, put a few eggs, and later died. This scenario isn’t typical, but it can happen.

Reason #4-Unfertilized Eggs

Female lice lay somewhere between 6-10 lice eggs a day when they are old enough. They will lay these eggs regardless of if they get fertilized or not. Female lice only need to be fertilized by a male once to be fertile, but if a female bug ended up on your head without a male and never fertilized, then she can lay lots of lice eggs that’ll never hatch. This scenario is also rare but possible. 

Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to tell which eggs will hatch and which ones won’t just by looking at them. The only way to know for sure is to wait and see if they hatch. I don’t know about you, but the “wait and see” option doesn’t sound like a good one to me.

Reason #5- Not Warm Enogh

Lice eggs are laid very close to the scalp because the scalp keeps the eggs warm. It's essential that lice eggs are kept at a precise temperature to grow and hatch. If your scalp isn't warm enough then they won't hatch. I see this most commonly happen with older men or women that are balding and have very little hair. This is far less common for children. Even children with VERY short (shaved) hair, lice eggs still hatch.

Do Nits Always Hatch?

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.

No, nits do not always hatch. Unfertilized eggs and others may have genetic or environmental reasons not to hatch. One study examined the question carefully and tested children that had only nits and no lice to see how likely it was that the nits would hatch. The study showed that about 20% of the kids with just nits converted into having full-blown lice. While 20% seems relatively low, I am not willing to take the risk on it. For me, finding nits in the hair means lice, and the chance of those nits hatching is too high to not do anything about it.

How Many Lice Eggs Usually Hatch?

Don't let the previous study confuse you. That study was of children that ONLY had lice eggs, not lice bugs were EVER found on them. For those with lice, the average amount of lice eggs that hatch is 87% (study). So if you're child has lice then the likelihood of the eggs in their hair hatching is VERY HIGH.

Nits, But No Lice, Treatment Plan

 

  1.  First, figure out if what you're finding are actually lice eggs or a different skin condition. The two best articles to help you identify this are Lice vs Dandruff- 7 Key Difference and What Lice Eggs Look Like: 9 Tips to Spot Them 
  2. If what you are finding are lice eggs then the most likely answer is that your child has lice bugs as well, you're just not seeing them. I'd recommend that you check out the Get Rid of Lice Like A Pro page.
stop sign and watch (1)

IF YOU'VE DISCOVERED LICE 

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

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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