Difference between Head Lice and Dandruff

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Jul 15, 2011

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Dandruff is a hair problem which is disconcerting, but is not as vicious as head lice. Dandruff makes the scalp dry and flaky. Once you have shampooed your hair, the dandruff flakes will disappear. However, in the case of head lice, the white flecks will remain and so will the itchiness. According to skin specialist Dr Rekha Sheth, “Head lice are kind of parasites of the size of small ants. They often grow in the hair of children and sometime develop in the hair of adults too. They develop gradually and differ from dandruff as well. There are many differences between head lice and dandruff.”


A few differences between head lice and dandruff are mentioned below.


  • The lice bugs are identified by their legs. Lice bugs have six legs and the size of the legs is like sesame seed and the colour of the legs is brown. Head lice grip the hair tightly with the legs and it is very difficult to wash them out with a simple shampoo.
  • Unlike head lice, dandruff is charactersed by white flakes which are generated from the dead skin of the head. These are not as dangerous as they can be easily washed out from the hair by using an anti-dandruff shampoo.
  • There is also a huge difference in the symptom of dandruff and lice. The most common symptom of head lice is itching on the scalp. In many cases, people can feel the crawling of lice bugs. Dandruff can cause itching too but it happens in serious cases. Dandruff can be visible to the naked eye as well.
  • If you want to check for dandruff on your head, just look at the mirror in ample light because it is quite difficult to differentiate head lice and dandruff in poor light. If you can arrange a vanity mirror, you can easily identify them.


In the case of both head lice and dandruff, you need to take proper action from the very onset, as it might lead to trouble in future. Keep the scalp clean by washing hair thoroughly every alternate day. If you think the problem is serious and you are unable to cure it properly, consult a dermatologist or a trichologist at the earliest.


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