The Difference Between Lice and Dandruff

Dandruff and head lice are both conditions that often occur in people of all ages. Although they do have a few similarities, they are quite different and there are a variety of ways in which you can treat both these conditions.

Lice are seen as a parasite, whereas dandruff is a condition that is self-contained and one that cannot be passed on between people. If you know what the differences are between these two, you can treat your specific condition with the correct treatment.

Taking a Look at Head Lice

Head lice can be indicated by small white particles on the scalp, much like dandruff. This is why they can easily be mistaken for one another at a glance. Head lice exist in three forms – eggs, nymphs, or adult lice. Eggs (or “nits”) are tiny and white. Nymphs are very small and light in color, and they will hatch from the eggs, while adult lice are roughly the same size as a sesame seed.

Looking at lice; they are considered a parasite, and they usually spread around by crawling or jumping onto other people when they are close together. They can also be shared through items like brushes, towels, and clothing. It is estimated that head lice affect up to 12 million people every year, of which young children are the most popular to be suffering from head lice.

Lice and dandruff

Image courtesy of Flickr

Taking a Look at Dandruff

Dandruff is non-contagious and it is also called seborrheic dermatitis, a result of a flaking scalp. These flakes of skin can be white or slightly yellow-is and can be dry or oily in nature. It can be caused by a buildup as a result of your shampoo products, or even due to very oily skin. Some conditions like psoriasis may also cause dandruff, although dry skin is normally the main reason.

Dandruff can often be genetic, but you can’t simply get it from someone else, like head lice. Dandruff affects mostly people from adolescence upwards, although many older people suffer from dandruff as well.

Dandruff can make you itch if your scalp is very dry. Dandruff is easy to comb out, whereas lice aren’t. Lice need human blood to feed on, which is why they live close to the scalp. This can cause an itching sensation, as well as the feeling of something small moving around on your scalp.

Since both can cause little white specs to appear in your hair and both can itch, it can sometimes be difficult for people to tell the difference. On the other hand, there are some people who do not see or feel any effects at all.

Popular Treatments

Both head lice and dandruff treatment include the use of medicated shampoos on your hair. Most of these shampoos will contain permethrin and pyrethrin in order to kill lice, and they should be used for children over the age of two. You might have to wash your hair again after seven to 10 days to ensure that all the lice are dead. You may repeat the cycle if necessary.

Dandruff can be effectively controlled with shampoos, especially those that target fungal infections, as this can usually lead to flaking skin. When you suffer from dandruff, look out for shampoos that contain products like salicylic acid, coal tar, or even selenium sulfide. These products can be used daily.

Author Bio:

Lorien Roux is an editor and copywriter for, a popular resource that offers expert health advice from qualified professionals and experienced contributors. You can find Lorien on Twitter.