Can You See Lice?

Image of a Louse

Are Head Lice Visible with the Naked Eye?

While head lice are large enough to be visible without magnification, they're still quite small. Most people can't see lice from a distance. These insects also move quickly and avoid light, so seeing them up close can be hard as well. The use of a magnifying glass may aid in finding head lice.

Head Lice Size

Through each stage of development, head lice size changes as nymphs hatch and develop.

  1. Eggs: Typically located about one quarter inch from the base of a hair shaft, louse eggs are about the size of a knot in a thread.
  2. Nymphs: Slightly larger than eggs, nymphs look like miniature versions of adult lice. They mature into adults in about ten days.
  3. Adults: Fully grown, the average louse size is just around 0.1 inches long. The pests are easy to mistake for dandruff.

Adult lice can live for around a month on a host. Though head lice don't spread disease, they feed on blood and cause itching. Since lice are most active at night, those affected could have trouble sleeping. In addition, excessive scratching often leads to infection.

Inspecting for Lice

Even after hatching, empty eggs stay attached to hair. People may need magnification to see lice eggs and distinguish them from other debris. Special combs can also aid in the detection of these parasites. For help with related pest infestations, contact the experts at Orkin.