Head Lice Picture Gallery

Head lice infestations are a common and frustrating problem for parents and kids. Unfortunately, some kids get treated inappropriately and unnecessarily for things that look like lice, but actually aren't.

These head lice pictures can help you to identify when your child has live lice on their head. And remember that you usually only need to treat your child with a lice shampoo when you see live lice. If you only see nits and are sure there are no live lice, you can just be careful to remove all of the nits.

Head Lice Infestation in a Girl with Long Hair

Head Lice Infestation in Girl with Long Hair
Vincent Iannelli, MD

A young girl with a head lice infestation. Although it is hard to see it, there was a large, live louse in the shot a second before the picture was taken, which just goes to show how hard it can be to find lice sometimes, especially in girls with long hair.

Adult Head Louse

Head louse 01
arlindo71 / Getty Images

This is a magnified picture of an adult head louse. In reality, mature head lice are about the size of a sesame seed.

Note the characteristic six legs of this crawling insect. If you magnified this louse even further, you might be able to see the small claws on the end of their legs that lice use to grasp hair.

Adult Head Louse

human head louse: pediculus humanus capitis copulation
London Scientific Films / Getty Images

The female head louse is a little 'fatter' than a male.

Head Louse Close-Up Picture

Head Louse Close-Up Picture
Vincent Iannelli, MD

Although this head louse is magnified, you can use the nearby strand of hair for comparison to understand how big head lice really are. This can help you to identify head lice on your child's hair during a lice infestation.

Head Lice Pictures

Cropped Hand Holding Hair With Head Louse
Panyawat Boontanom / EyeEm / Getty Images

This unmagnified picture of a head louse shows what to expect when you search your child's head for live lice.

Instead of worrying when you think your child has head lice, you should first confirm that your child has head lice. Reviewing head lice pictures like this one can help you understand what you are looking for, including live lice and nits (lice eggs) in your child's hair.

Looking for Head Lice: Do you See Them?

Head Louse on a Girl's Head
Vincent Iannelli, MD

Can you spot the head louse in this picture of a young child with a head lice infestation?

A Picture of a Live Louse on a Child's Head

Live Louse on Hair
Vincent Iannelli, MD

This picture is of a live head louse on a girl's head, with a red circle around the louse to make identification easy.

Pictures of Nits

Head Lice Nits Picture
Vincent Iannelli, MD

Nits are the eggs of lice. Nits are small, oval shaped and usually a yellowish-white color and are firmly attached to the side of hair shafts.

Simply having nits does not necessarily mean that your child has live lice, though, since some nits may be empty egg casings and some may have dead, non-infective lice embryos inside.

Nits that are close to your child's scalp are the ones that are most likely to be infective and are the ones that are thought to hatch into live lice, a process that takes six to nine days. Continuing to get new nits, even after you have removed nits from your child's hair, is also a likely sign that your child has live lice on her hair and needs a lice treatment.

A live louse will typically lay up to eight eggs a day, so if your child only has a few nits, then she likely doesn't have an active lice infestation.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is against no-nit policies that exclude children from school because they have lice. In fact, the AAP now states that 'No healthy child should be excluded from or allowed to miss school time because of head lice.' This is likely a big surprise to all of the parents who have had their kids sent home from school because of head lice.

To add to the confusion about head lice, some people only use the term nits to refer to empty egg casings and lice eggs when talking about viable lice eggs. Others use the term nits to refer to both viable lice eggs and empty egg casings.

More Pictures of Nits

Head Lice Egg or Nits Picture
Vincent Iannelli, MD

This is an out of focus picture of a nit, or head lice egg, with a caption and red circle around the nit to make identification easy. Did you find the nit on your own?

Lice Life Cycle Picture

Head Lice Life Cycle Stages
Photo courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Having a hard time figuring out what you are looking for when you think your kids have lice? This picture of the three stages of the head lice life cycle can help.

This picture shows the three stages of the head lice life cycle, including the head lice egg or nit, nymph, and adult louse, as compared to the size of a penny for scale.

Louse Life Cycle

  • A mature or adult head louse can lay up to 10 eggs or nits each day.
  • These nits, or lice eggs, hatch in about 7 to 12 days. Baby lice or nymphs are about the size of a pinhead when they hatch and quickly mature into adult lice in about seven days.
  • In just a few days, adult lice are ready to mate, starting this lice life cycle all over again during their 3- to 4-week lifespan.

Of course, a proper lice treatment regimen can interrupt the lice life cycle and help you get rid of the lice on your child's hair.

Head Lice Doctor Discussion Guide

Get our printable guide for your next doctor's appointment to help you ask the right questions.

Doctor Discussion Guide Child
Was this page helpful?

Article Sources

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. CDC - Lice - Head Lice - Treatment. Cdc.gov. Updated October 15, 2019.

  2. CDC - Lice - Head Lice - Biology. Cdc.gov. September 11, 2109.

Additional Reading

  • American Academy of Pediatrics Clinical Report. Head Lice. PEDIATRICS Vol. 126 No. 2 August 2010, pp. 392-403.