Body lice

  • Definition

    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.


    Alternative Names

    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.