The only way of confirming an infection with head lice is by seeing either the adult lice or their eggs in the hair. The lice tend to stay close to the scalp and move away from direct light, but the nits are stuck to the hair shafts. In searching for nits and/or lice, the following are important:
- clean, tangle-free hair,
- bright light, especially natural light,
- use of a fine comb and start combing at the roots of the hair,
- using a magnifying glass may be helpful.
Nits may be distinguished from, for example, dandruff, by trying to move them off the hair shaft. As they have been firmly attached by the parent lice, nits are not easily removed. Even after treatment, empty nit shells may remain stuck to the hair. The shells tend to look whiter and more shiny, and to be more than 0 to 1 inch away from the scalp. They are not a sign of re-infestation.