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Lice Eggs vs. Dandruff: What’s the Difference?

Lice Eggs vs. Dandruff: What’s the Difference?

No matter the reason, having an itchy scalp can be a pretty miserable experience. There are a few different reasons why this might be happening, two of which are lice eggs or nits, or dandruff.

Though both may sound intimidating, luckily both are pretty easy and affordable to treat at home. We’ll walk through the difference between lice eggs vs. dandruff, and how you can effectively treat both.

Lice Eggs in Hair vs. Dandruff

First things first, let’s define what lice eggs in hair vs. dandruff are.

Lice are insects that live and lay eggs on your scalp. They feed on your blood (which is how they can stay alive on your scalp for a while).

 

They are also contagious, meaning you can pass them to another person. Lice can be spread by sharing hair tools like brushes and combs. But it also can be passed through soft surfaces, like clothes, furniture, or bedding.

Dandruff, on the other hand, is a common chronic skin condition that causes dry skin to flake off of your scalp. It can be caused by eczema or other dry skin conditions, though sometimes it’s also caused by a yeast infection. Dandruff isn’t contagious, and often isn’t itchy so much as it is uncomfortable for whoever has it.

How Do I Know If I Have Lice Eggs in My Hair?

If you’re experiencing an itchy scalp, there are a few different ways to tell if you have lice eggs in your hair. The first is location; dandruff is usually found directly on your scalp or very close to it. Lice or lice eggs usually adhere to the actual shaft of your hair, rather than your scalp.

Another way to know if you have lice in your hair is the appearance. If you’ve ever wondered what do lice eggs look like vs dandruff, here’s your answer. Lice eggs look like tiny yellow or white eggs shaped like a teardrop. Dandruff usually looks more like what you would expect dry skin to look like.

Lice Eggs vs. Dandruff

How to Treat Lice Eggs (Nits) vs. Dandruff

Even though both lice and dandruff may feel miserable and uncomfortable in the moment, they’re both relatively easy to treat. Lice and lice nits can be treated with an over-the-counter shampoo, following the package instructions. For lice eggs specifically, you also want to make sure you comb out any of the nits or eggs, starting about one-quarter inch away from the scalp.

Since lice nits can also live on non-human surfaces, you also want to make sure you thoroughly clean any hair tools like brushes, as well as any soft surfaces you may have touched with your head while you had lice.

Dandruff is treated with a special dandruff shampoo, used twice a week or according to the package instructions.

For both lice eggs vs. dandruff, if the over-the-counter options don’t seem to be working, see your healthcare provider. They can help you identify if your dandruff is caused by something else, or if you need a medicated shampoo to help attack the lice.

If my child has lice, do they have to come home early from school?

According to the CDC, if your child has lice, they don’t actually need to be sent home early from school. They can go home as usual at the end of the day and begin one of the treatments mentioned above. It’s also worth noting that personal hygiene or cleanliness at home has nothing to do with lice—sometimes these things just happen!

In fact, both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Association of School Nurses have advocated that schools get rid of policies that require students to be sent home with nits—largely because sending students home puts an unnecessary burden on students and families, and the risk of spreading nits is actually not that high.

Most nits are usually more than a quarter inch away from the scalp, meaning that they’re usually not viable or likely to hatch into live lice. Sometimes these nits are even empty shells—but it’s often hard for nonmedical personnel to tell the difference.

So, if your child’s school calls to tell you they’ve found nits on your child’s scalp, you don’t have to panic. They’re not likely to pass them on to any other children and can be easily treated at home using the methods mentioned above.

Shop Happy Cappy

Looking for shampoo for an itchy scalp? Shop Happy Cappy’s Cradle Cap Shampoo, a gentle option that’s free of the harsh, synthetic chemicals commonly found in personal hygiene products

FAQs

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Dr. Eddie Valenzuela is an award winning pediatrician and the founder and CEO of Pediatric Solutions, LLC.

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Can dandruff turn into lice?

Dandruff doesn’t turn into lice. Lice suck your blood and mind their own business. There is no relationship between dandruff and lice at all.

How do you get rid of lice eggs and dandruff?

Use a medicated or anti-lice shampoo for the treatment of lice and dandruff. Use a fine-toothed comb over 3 times weekly to remove dandruff flakes and lice. Make sure to wet your hair before combing.

Do dead lice fall out of hair?

Dead lice can fall out of hair. However, nits are packed in a shield created by a female louse, which you need to manually extract with a comb.

Can you feel lice with your fingers?

Yes, lice can be touched with fingers. When they crawl on your head, you might feel something moving on your head.

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