Lice and nits are visible to the naked eye, so parents can spot them by parting their child's hair and carefully examining each section with a fine-tooth comb and magnifying glass, KidsHealth states. Children may also scratch their heads frequently or notice a tickling feeling or movement on the scalp.
An adult louse typically has pale gray or tan coloring and is as tiny as a sesame seed, according to KidsHealth. Adults and nymphs are difficult to find because lice quickly move through hair and stay out of sight. However, they lay tiny eggs or nits that attach to hair shafts. Nits are usually brown, yellow or tan, while empty shells from hatched nymphs may look clear or white. Nits are initially hatched near the scalp, but become more visible as new hair growth carries them farther away. Parents should also check for sores, rashes, or signs of swelling and infection, which may develop from excessive scratching.
Since lice symptoms overlap with conditions such as eczema and dandruff, parents should pay attention to which parts of the head are most irritated. HealthyChildren.org suggests looking behind the ears and examining the hairline at the back of the head, where infestations and symptoms are often most noticeable. If lice are suspected, parents should consult a physician for confirmation and instructions on how to proceed with treatment.