One of the most frustrating things about lice is the terminology around it. Lice, louse, nymph, nits, eggs? What the heck is all of this? With the confusion of what is what is also leads to misunderstandings, myths circulating, and unsuccessful treatments being done. Let’s go through the proper terminology so that you can know what is happening and get the right answers for lice treatment that will be successful.
Louse—It is one bug and it can be male or female. A female adult louse will lay 3-5 eggs/day during her 30-day lifetime.
Lice —It is the plural louse.
Nymphs—They are the newly hatched lice. Babies and they need 1 week to mature into an adult. When first hatched they will stay near where they were hatched to feed. They have 3 stages to go through before becoming an adult but. When first hatched they are very, very tiny and translucent. Their colour will change as they feed and start to grow.
Nits—This is where a lot of the confusion comes in. Many people think the eggs are called nits. Some people think the lice are called nits. A nit is an empty egg. It is left behind on the hair shaft after the louse has hatched. This empty egg isn’t white, but it is a translucent colour and will still be attached to the hair shaft.
Eggs—This is the right term for a louse egg that has not been hatched. It takes 7 days for an egg to hatch. Eggs are glued to one side of the hair shaft, are tear-shaped and brownish/caramel in colour. Eggs are located very close to the scalp.
Now that you know the right terminology you can make informed decisions on lice removal and treatment. It is important to know what treatments are effective and treatments just don’t work. Many products will confuse you with their claims about killing nits or eggs There are no products on the market that kill eggs though that is what is stated on many products you buy in the drug store. There are many myths about treatment which can be found on our Myth Page. It is important that when you discover lice that you don’t panic and do the research and get the right information on lice removal.