Dandruff Or Lice? Differences Between Both

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Is your child continuously scratching their head?

Are they scorned for not maintaining personal hygiene?

An itchy scalp is not always a case of lice infestation. The reason may simply be dandruff or dry scalp.

However, itchiness is not the only reason why we tend to confuse dandruff with head lice. When examining the scalp, small flakes of dried skin can be mistaken for nits which are also white egg shells.

Here are a few markers that help differentiate between the two.


A lice infestation is an external attack by parasites which thrive on human blood and go through 3 distinct life stages:

Nits: unborn lice babies in white egg shells

Nymphs: young adult lice which has recently hatched

Adult Lice: the largest size lice can grow to be but still smaller than a seed.

On the contrary, dandruff is a self-contained, internal scalp condition which results from a different set of causes. The consequences are dry, flaky skin which peels off and causes itch.

Lice or Dandruff: Spot the Difference

One major difference in both their symptoms is that even though both conditions cause the scalp to be speckled with white spots, dandruff falls out in powdery form but nits don’t.

If you want to test whether the itch is due to dandruff, try raking through your hair and shake your roots above a dark surface. If white particles fall out, that’s dandruff.

Nits are firmly stuck to hair shafts and don’t fall out that easily.




These parasitic critters can only transfer from one human host to another through physical contact. They don’t have the ability to fly like fleas.

However, they can stick to bedding, clothes, towels and accessories that come in contact with the scalp and transfer to someone else. The transfer needs to be effectively soon enough for it to happen because lice die without feeding onto blood.


This scalp condition is not contagious and cannot transfer from person to person. If your scalp is extremely oil or excessively dry, or you have genetic traits that lead to this condition, you may experience this. Common skin yeast infections are also associated with dandruff.

This condition spares no one because it can impact infants in the form of cradle cap to older people as well.


Even though you can use prescribed shampoos and medication for both conditions, they differ vastly in formulas and ingredients used.

Also, regular over-the-counter shampoos have been tested to develop resistance in head lice so that’s not a favorable idea. It’s better to seek professional help before aggravating the condition even more.

Looking for professionals who can rid your scalp off head lice?

At Lice Troopers, we have experts who provide professional lice removal services in Orlando. If you’re looking for tried and tested services for treating head lice, get in touch with us ASAP.