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Home > Health Library > Body Lice
Body lice are tiny insects that can make a temporary home in the seams of your clothing or bedding (sheets, pillows, and blankets). They'remost often spread by contact with a person who has body lice or with that person's clothes, bedding, or towels.
Body lice are usually found only among people who can't wash their bodies or their clothes regularly.
Body lice can cause very bad itching, especially at night. They can also cause sores in the armpits, waist, or torso. These are places where the seams of clothing can press against your skin.
It's hard to see body lice on your body. It's much easier to see lice or their eggs (called nits) on clothes.
Most people can get rid of body lice by washing personal items and their bodies regularly. Clothes, bedding, and towels should be machine-washed in hot water [at least 130°F (54.4°C)] and dried on the hot cycle.
Try to bathe daily until there are no signs of lice on your body, clothes, or bedding. To prevent body lice from coming back, try to bathe and wash clothes and bedding at least once a week.
In most cases, you don't need medicine to kill body lice. If these hygiene steps don't work, you can use an over-the-counter or prescription medicine to kill body lice. It's important to use any medicine correctly and to choose a medicine that is safe for you.
You can also talk to the pharmacist to understand how to use a medicine and make sure that it is safe for you.
In rare cases, body lice carry disease. This usually only happens when people are living closely together in places that don't have good sanitation, such as refugee camps.
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Current as ofApril 17, 2018
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Adam Husney, MD - Family MedicineMartin J. Gabica, MD - Family MedicineJohn Pope, MD, MPH - Pediatrics
Current as of:
April 17, 2018
Medical Review:Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & John Pope, MD, MPH - Pediatrics
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