Body lice lay their eggs on bedding, on body hair, and in the seams and folds of clothing where body heat enables the eggs to hatch. Because they can't fly or walk, body lice are spread through direct contact with infected people or through contact with bedding, furniture, or other places where the insects have taken up residence. Body lice cause an itchy rash that can turn into bacteria-infected sores.
You can treat body lice infestations by applying a lice-killing shampoo or lotion to your entire body. However, you should check with your physician before using such a product if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Infected people should bathe in hot water, change into freshly laundered clothes, and wash all infested linens and towels in hot water.
Body lice (Pediculus humanus humanus) are parasitic insects that live in clothing and feed on a person's blood. They are different from head lice.
Who's at Risk?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, body lice infestations in the United States are found primarily in homeless, transient people who don't have access to changes of clothes or bathing facilities. Body lice are more common in colder areas where people wear more clothes and in places where war, economic conditions, or other factors may prohibit regular laundering of clothing.
Body lice can carry diseases such as trench fever and epidemic typhus, but outbreaks are relatively rare. Still, it's a good idea to put up your best defense against these tiny troublemakers:
- Avoid sharing clothes and bedding and keep in mind that body lice can survive for several days on clothing and other items.
- Avoid close, prolonged contact with an infested person.
- Bathe in hot water and use a prescription or nonprescription shampoo or lotion to control lice.
- Wash clothes, linens, and towels in hot water, and either dry them using heat or dry-clean them.
Scabies thrives on skin-to-skin contact between people, or the sharing of towels, bedding, or clothing. You'll learn more about this infection in the next section.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.