How To Tell Nits From Dandruff

Max. D Gray
By Max. D Gray. Updated: January 20, 2017
How To Tell Nits From Dandruff

Nits are small white eggs that are attached to the base of the hair, that within about a week hatch into head lice. When we suspect that someone may have head lice and look at their head, it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish nits from dandruff. If you follow our advice you will know how to do it without any hesitation. Keep reading this article and find out what you need to know to tell nits apart from dandruff.

Steps to follow:


Nits show resistance when you want to remove them from the hair because they are firmly attached, unlike dandruff which falls out easily when the hair is shaken. That is why it's so hard to separate nits from the hair.

How To Tell Nits From Dandruff - Step 1

Nits cannot be removed simply by washing, but dandruff can. So if after one or two washes you can still see some suspicious white spots, they are more likely to be nits and not dandruff. It is also advisable to try a special anti-dandruff shampoo to check whether it is one or the other.

How To Tell Nits From Dandruff - Step 2

Nits separate from the scalp as the hair grows (1 cm each month). The further away from the root they are, the more likely they are to have died. This means that you don't always have a head lice infestation if you find nits in the hair.

How To Tell Nits From Dandruff - Step 3

Dandruff usually has a more intense white colour while nits tend to have a more pearly tone. You can also try to tell the difference by looking at the shape, since lice eggs are elongated, while dandruff, which is simply flakes of skin, can be larger and of any shape.

How To Tell Nits From Dandruff - Step 4

If you're sure that it is lice, you should take steps to eradicate them. We have some more OneHowTo articles about head lice that might interest you:

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to How To Tell Nits From Dandruff, we recommend you visit our Family health category.


  • If the child or person being examined has lice, they should receive proper head lice treatment whether they have itching or not.
  • If you have nits and itching you will also have to follow a treatment.
  • If you find nits without itching, they should be removed with a nit comb and the head examined daily.
  • If you experience itching but there are no nits or lice, see your doctor.
  • Take into account you may also find lice eggs so look out for them too. These are brown and are usually right next to the scalp.
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How To Tell Nits From Dandruff