Body lice are tiny insects, about the size of a sesame seed. Body lice live in your clothing and bedding, and travel to your skin several times a day to feed on blood. The most common sites for bites are around the waist, groin and armpits-places where clothing seams are most likely to touch skin.
Body lice are most common in crowded and unhygienic living conditions, such as refugee camps and shelters for homeless people, and unkempt environments. Body lice bites can spread certain types of diseases and can even cause epidemics.
Clothing and bedding that have been infested with body lice should be laundered in hot, soapy water and machine dried, using the hot cycle.
Body lice are similar to head lice, but have different habits. While head lice live in your hair and feed on your scalp, body lice typically live in your clothes and bedding. They travel to your skin several times a day to feed on blood.
The seams of your clothing are the most common places for body lice to lay their eggs (nits). You can become infested with body lice if you come in close contact with a person who has body lice, or with clothing or bedding that is infested with body lice.
Body lice bites can cause intense itching. See your doctor if improved hygiene doesn’t stop the infestation, or if you develop a skin infection from scratching the bites.
Body lice are primarily treated by thoroughly washing yourself and any contaminated item with soap and hot water.
If these measures don’t work, you can try using an over-the-counter lotion or body wash. If that still doesn’t work, your doctor can provide a prescription lotion. Lice-killing products can be toxic to humans, so follow the directions carefully.