Body lice are tiny parasites (Pediculus humanus corporis) that spread through close contact with other people.
There are three types of lice:
- Body lice
Head lice Pubic lice
This article focuses on body lice.
Lice - body; Pediculosis
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Lice feed on human blood and live in the seams and folds of clothing. They lay their eggs and deposit waste matter on the skin and clothing.
You can catch body lice if you come in direct contact with someone who has lice, or with infected clothing, towels, or bedding.
Body lice are bigger than other types of lice.
You are more likely to get body lice if you have poor hygiene or live in close (overcrowded) conditions. Infestation is unlikely to last on anyone who bathes regularly, and who has at least weekly access to freshly laundered clothing and bedding.
If the lice fall off of a person, they die within about 5 - 7 days at room temperature.
Review Date: 10/04/2010
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.