Pictures of Head Lice

These pictures of head lice show what lice look like at multiple stages of the lice life cycle.

Head lice adult male, female and nit close up

An adult male, female louse and nit.

Adult louse clear in color, unfed

Before feeding, lice are clear in color.

Nit or lice egg on a hair strand

The nit, or egg, attached to hair shaft can be difficult to remove.

Empty nit or lice egg shell after hatching

An empty nit shell can stay attached to the hair shaft.

Head lice egg hatching

Double nit hatching.

Adult head lice male

Adult male louse.

Head lice adult, nymph and nit (egg)

Stages of a louse: nit, nymph, and adult.

Head lice size compared to a ruler

As you can see, when placed next to a ruler, lice are a fraction of a centimeter in size.


Affecting over an estimated 12 million children per year, head lice do not discriminate. Head lice are happy to inhabit the head of any human child or adult.

Although they do not fly or jump, head lice will move quickly from one head to another. It is said that they prefer clean heads, but lice will climb on to your hair whether it is dirty or clean. Lice feed on human blood to survive and cannot live off of a human host for more than about 36 hours.

When you know what head lice look like, identification is much easier during a head check. Notice the pictures of nits show they are attached to the hair shaft even after the eggs hatch. You will know you are looking at a nit when it is not easily removed from the hair strand. The pictures also show what head lice look like in the nymph (young louse) and adult louse stages. Nymphs are very small and can be difficult to see.

Lice life cycle facts:

  • It takes approximately 30-35 days for a louse to complete its life cycle from nit through adult stage.
  • One female louse can lay up to 10 eggs (nits) per day. It takes 7-10 days for the nits to hatch.
  • The second stage of life is called the nymph stage. It takes 7-10 days in this stage before the louse becomes an adult.
  • Head lice will molt three times before reaching its adult form.