Body Lice Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Body Lice is also known as “Pediculus humanus corporis”. The clothing and bedding worn by infected people harbor parasitic insects called body lice. On or around clothing seams is where body lice typically deposit their eggs. Body lice primarily only migrate to the surface to satiate and must consume blood to survive. They surpass three stages which are nit, nymph, and adult. Nits are very small to be seen by the naked eye, and hatch between 1 to 2 weeks. Despite being younger than adult lice, nymphs develop into adults after nine to twelve days of blood eating.


A mature louse has a brown-red or yellow-grey appearance. When compared to a sesame seed, their size is quite close (3 millimeters). Female head lice, which are bigger than their male counterparts, may lay more than 300 eggs throughout their lives. The average life expectancy of a body louse is 20 days. If an adult louse doesn't get blood within a day or two, it will die.

How Body Lice Grow and Spread

Lice on the body may spread rapidly via intimate contact with an infected individual or through contact with contaminated clothes, linens, and towels.

Infestations of body lice typically don’t cause much trouble. However, in some cases, body lice can also transfer bacterial illnesses like epidemic typhus, trench fever, and louse-borne relapsing fever. When a person with an infection scrapes parasite excrement into their skin, these infections are disseminated. Even though outbreaks of louse-borne typhus are uncommon, they can nonetheless occur in areas where frequent washing and changing of garments are hindered by social customs, extreme poverty, natural or man-made disasters, or conflict.


  • Intense itching (pruritus),

  • An allergic response to the louse attacks that resulted in a rash

  • If the lice have been present for a while, thicker or darker skin may appear, generally towards the waist or groyne.

  • Red skin bumps

  • You get skin tingling

  • Scratching excessively can result in sores on the body and, in rare cases, spreading bacteria or fungi due to the sores’ bacterial or fungal infection.

  • Your skin may thicken and darken if you’ve had body lice for a prolonged period or if they frequently nip at particular parts of your body.


Examining the skin and clothing and keeping an eye out for eggs and crawling louse is usually enough to determine whether someone has body lice. A sesame seed’s size would be a good comparison for the insects. Although they can be found with a magnifying glass, they are large enough to be seen with the unaided eye. The eggs, or “nits,” are typically discovered in the seams of garments.

Finding eggs and crawling lice in the seams of clothing can be used to detect a body lice infestation. A body louse may occasionally be spotted creeping or munching on the skin. Although body lice and nits may be visible to the unaided eye, it may be essential to use a magnifying glass to find crawling lice or eggs.


By routinely taking warm, soapy baths and scrubbing their clothes, most people are successfully able to get rid of body lice infestation. You should take a bath every day until you no longer have any nits or body lice on any of your fabric belongings. If you want to keep body lice away, you should take a bath and wash your clothes, bedding, and other textiles at least once a week. Use hot water to wash any items that have come into touch with the body lice, including your clothes, mattress, and bedding (at least 129 degrees Fahrenheit or 54 degrees Celsius).

To get the ideal temperature, you might need to modify your water heater. Put your clean clothing in the dryer's hottest setting for at least 30 minutes after washing them. By ironing your clothing, you can further aid in the elimination of nits and body lice. Inside out, carefully iron the seams of your garments and bedding. Put the goods in a plastic bag and seal it tightly for at least two weeks if you can’t wash them or don’t have access to washing and dryer. Try to keep them warm if you can. Vacuum your carpets, beds, and furniture on a regular basis. When you’re done, immediately empty your vacuum into an outdoor trashcan.

Some Medications Are

  • Oral antiparasitic medication, like ivermectin tablets.

  • Topical antiparasitic powder, cream or shampoo, lotion, etc

How to Prevent Body Lice?

People who are unable to frequently bathe or change their clothes are more likely to contract body lice. To avoid getting body lice, practice good personal cleanliness and change into clean clothes at least once each week. A further precaution to take is to avoid sharing towels, bedsheets, or clothing with infected people. If body lice are found, machine washing and tumble drying all contaminated clothing and bedding in hot water should get rid of them forever. Other people who live with you, such as family members or roommates, might also need to be treated.

How to Relieve Ourselves for Short Period of time

  • One technique to relieve itchy skin is to use anti-itch cream. You might want to try a hydrocortisone-containing cream. This medication can help to soothe irritated, itchy skin by inhibiting inflammatory reactions in the body. The shortest time possible (often 1 to 2 weeks) should be used before stopping the usage of hydrocortisone and corticosteroid creams. This is due to the possibility of adverse effects like skin thinning and addiction.

  • Oatmeal with colloidal particles is not a breakfast food. The oats used to make this kind of oatmeal are pounded into a thin powder. It is a natural substance that is added to many soaps and lotions and can also be used in chilly baths. Showed a noticeable improvement in skin hydration, skin pH, and skin barrier function.

  • A cold pack or a bag of ice is one potential and straightforward remedy for itchiness on the skin. You may have realized that cold is the key. As much as you can, keep the injured region out of hot water. The itchiness of the skin will get worse.

Updated on: 23-Feb-2023


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