Body lice

Occurrence: Body lice (Pediculus humanus humanus) is one of the three species of lice that can live on humans (the others are head lice and crab. Body lice live in the seams and folds of clothing, where they also lay their eggs. 

Food: Body lice feed on human blood. They can survive for up to 1 month in clothing. In room temperature, they die within 5-7 days if they fall off their host.

Combat: Fighting body lice is all about hygiene; i.e. showering daily, changing clothes every day and washing your clothes at a minimum of 55 degrees. Tumble drying your clothes also helps to kill the lice and their eggs.

Body lice control products can be purchased here.


Description of the body lock

Body lice are very similar to head lice and in practice you can only tell the difference between the two using a microscope. However, body lice are slightly larger than both head lice and crabs.

Like the other two lice species, body lice have six legs and are wingless. They are 2.5 - 3.5 mm long and brown or grey-white in color. However, the nymphs (which are precursors to the adult stage) are smaller than adult lice.

Immediately after a louse has ingested blood, its color may become more reddish. Once digestion starts, the reddish color disappears again.

Body lice are also more tenacious than the other lice; head lice and crabs are highly dependent on body heat and will die if separated from their host for more than 24 hours.

Body lice are more hardy because they live on clothing and are able to survive for up to 1 week without food or contact with their host.

Body lice become more reddish in color when they feed

Body lice turn a more reddish color when they ingest blood

However, Kroplus remain highly sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity and have been observed leaving dead people and individuals with high body temperatures.

If you wear multiple layers of clothing on a hot day, lice can move to the outer layers to regulate the temperature. However, they don't usually travel on the outside of clothing and are therefore not visible. If they are seen on clothing, this is a sign of a very heavy lice infestation.

It is also believed that body lice evolved from head lice after humans started wearing clothes.


Symptoms and symptoms

Body lice and their eggs can be found in the seams of clothing but are not usually seen on the skin. Their bites cause small red bumps on the skin that cause severe itching, typically worst at night. When these bumps are scratched, they turn into small sores that continue to itch.

The bumps and sores are usually found on the upper body, armpits and around the waist. They can occur wherever the seams of clothing are pressing against or in close contact with the skin. This can be at the edge of the pants, bra straps, etc.

If you are infested with lice for a long time or repeatedly, the infested skin may thicken or change color.


Risk factors

Living in crowded or unclean environments. People who live very close together and don't bathe or wash their clothes often (such as homeless people, refugees, etc.) are at an increased risk of contracting body lice.


Body lice treatment

Body lice live in the seams and folds of clothing and also lay their eggs here. They are killed by washing clothes in hot water - i.e. 60°C or above. The washing time should be a minimum of 20 minutes.

Body lice are only found on the skin when they need to suck blood. In other words, if you shower daily and wear clean clothes, they have very poor living conditions.

Although regular hygiene is usually sufficient to control lice, tumble drying can help, as neither the lice nor the eggs can tolerate the hot air.

Body lice control products can be purchased here.


Avoid body lice

Body lice can be avoided by showering regularly and changing clothes daily (and only change into clean clothes!). You should also wash all your clothes at a minimum of 55 degrees if you are infested with lice.

As mentioned above, living in close quarters increases the risk of body lice. Therefore, more space in the home can also help to ensure that lice are avoided in the future.