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Body louse
Body louse


Lice, body with stool (Pediculus humanus)
Lice, body with stool (Pediculus humanus)


Body louse, female and larvae
Body louse, female and larvae


Head louse and pubic louse
Head louse and pubic louse


Definition:

Body lice are tiny parasites (Pediculus humanus corporis) that spread through close contact with other people.

There are three types of lice:

This article focuses on body lice.



Alternative Names:

Lice - body



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 an infected person or infected clothing and 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.



Symptoms:
  • Intense itching
  • Red bumps on the skin


Signs and tests:

Your doctor can usually diagnose this condition by looking at your skin and clothing. Persons with body lice should also be checked for head and pubic lice.



Treatment:

Because body lice live primarily in clothing, destruction or careful washing of infected garments is most important. In addition, your doctor may recommend a prescription cream or wash.



Support Groups:



Expectations (prognosis):

With effective treatment, the lice can be completely eliminated.



Complications:

Another (secondary) skin infection may occur from scratching. In rare cases, body lice may carry uncommon diseases such as relapsing or trench fever.



Calling your health care provider:

Call your health care provider if you have lice in your clothing or persistent itchiness.



Prevention:

Good personal hygiene and effective treatment of infected persons will prevent lice from spreading to others.




Review Date: 10/28/2008
Reviewed By: Michael Lehrer, M.D., Department of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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