Body Lice: Everything You Need to Know

Body Lice

Human body louse Pediculus humanus

What is body lice?

Body lice are tiny, parasitic insect that are commonly found on the cloths of several infested people. It can also be observed on their bedding or on bodies. Many people relate them with head lice as they look much similar to those insects but the actually difference is that body lice rarely harms the head hair.

Rather, they prefer to spend huge time of the life on the clothing of infested person. If you are searching for can you see body lice then the answer is that it can be often seen crawling down to skin surface. They live by consuming blood from affected person’s body. You can see pictures of body lice below:

Body lices (Pediculus humanus var. corporis)

This 2006 image depicts five body lice, Pediculus humanus var. corporis, which from left to right, included three nymphal-staged lice, beginning with a stage N1, then N2, and thirdly a N3-staged nymph, followed by an adult male louse, and finally an adult female louse.

How do you get body lice?

The female lice are observed to lay their eggs on clothing at specific areas that is in close touch with skin. The reason behind is that the body heat allows them to incubate with ease and they usually come out within a week. Studies reveal that the female louse is capable enough to produce eggs in count of around 300 or even more than that during her life tenure.

A close look at this is a piece of clothing, revealed that the seams contained lice eggs, or nits, from the body louse Pediculus humanus var. corporis.

A close look at this is a piece of clothing, revealed that the seams contained lice eggs, or nits, from the body louse Pediculus humanus var. corporis. The image is copyrighted to Reed & Carnrick Pharmaceuticals.

The average production rate of body lice eggs is 10 in a day. For the hatching purpose these eggs need temperature within 75 degrees to 100 degree Fahrenheit range.

The incubation process can lead to adult stage even within nine days if they stay close to the body temperature but in case if the person do not wear cloths containing these eggs then they may take several weeks to grow up to adult stage.

Most of the body lice usually do not have a specific home and they often find best place to live in the cloths of the person who rarely change them. You will rarely find body lice in the cloths of little kids.

female body louse

This image depicts an adult female body louse, Pediculus humanus var. corporis, alongside of which, were two larval young. The image is copyrighted to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Transmission of these body lice generally occurs in particular living conditions such as when people live in much crowded space, if they keep on neglecting standard hygiene level, person does not change clothes for several days or when proper laundering solutions are missing.

Professionals say that lice find they way to spread up to larger number of people when they are homeless, facing some natural diseases or victims of war as in these cases people often sleep in common cloths and they stay much closer to each other to share warmth. Furniture and bedding are also considered as major source of infestation in most of the overcrowded areas.

Body lice Vs head lice

As we have already discussed that body lice use to live on cloths or skin surface of affected person but on the other side, the head lice affects hair. The head lice can be commonly recognised as a tiny grey-white animal that has maximum length of 2 to 3 mm. In general, the female louse use to have total lifespan of around one month and in between this time, it is observed to lay 7 to 10 eggs per day at an average.

Head lice (louse) on human hair

Head lice (louse) on human hair

The female head louse try to attach their eggs closely to the hair shaft area as it stays much closer to scalp. You may find them somewhat like dandruff and they are attached to hair with some water insoluble, glue like substance that cannot be removed easily. Transmission of head lice usually occurs via head to head contact, headphones, sharing pillows, brushes, combs etc.

What does body lice look like?

The body louse is found to be larger as compared to the head louse but their physical appearance is almost similar.

female body louse

This 2006 photograph depicted a lateral view of a female body louse, Pediculus humanus var. corporis, as it was obtaining a blood-meal from a human host, who in this case, happened to be the photographer.

If you are searching about how long do lice live off the body then the answer is here: they have almost equal life time but the fact is that body louse can survive almost up to 30 days when they get separated from a human host but on the other side the head lice use to die soon.

male and a female body louse

This photograph depicts a male (Lt) and a female body louse, Pediculus humanus. This image is copyrighted by the World Health Organization (WHO), and after obtaining permission from WHO for its reuse, please credit that organization upon its reprint.

There are so many symptoms associated with both these troubles but here in this article, we are going to add more focus on body lice, they symptoms and possible treatments.

Symptoms associated with Body Lice Attack

When a person has body lice on his cloths or a body lice bites skin surface then it causes some kind of intense itching sensation and it happens just because they develop certain allergic reaction in their saliva with that touch of human body. The reaction caused by these tiny insects generally looks like small marks with welt like appearance and it can also lead to swelling and redness in the affected area.

Most of the time, it is observed to effect torso and neck area of human body. In case if the person is suffering with allergic reaction caused by these bites from a longer time then it may also lead to thickening or darkening or skin surface with added feeling of fatigue and several associated symptoms. One who scratches these bites can also have major allergic reaction or body lice rashes.

Woman scratching her neck

Considering the areas affected by war issues or few underdeveloped sections of society, these places often have poor sanitation and they often stay overly crowded. Thus body lice find their way to transmit microbes that can cause louse-borne typhus, louse borne relapsing and trench fever.

Endocarditic and Trench fever caused by body lice infection are some of the most dangerous disease spread by these tiny insects. Some of the potential effects are shown by body lice bites pictures. Studies reveal that it has major impact in most of the areas of Europe and North America.

Below we have highlighted few most commonly observed symptoms of Body Lice:

  • It causes intense itching sensation.
  • May also lead to rashes that are caused by several allergic reactions initiated by body lice.
  • Sufferers may also face red bumps on their affected skin area.
  • One may also find darkened, thickened skin surface around groin reason or surrounding the waste area. It happens when lice spend larger time in this area.

Complications involved with body lice:

Although, the body lice usually cause limited issues but there are few cases when they lead to major troubles like:

  1. Spread of Disease: Body lice are capable enough to carry as well as spread several bacterial diseases as like typhus and trench fever etc.
  2. Skin Changes: In case if you are suffering with this body lice trouble from a long time then you may face few skin changes as like discoloration and thickening etc. It has major impact on upper thighs, groin area or around waist.
  3. Secondary Infections: Whenever body lice try to manage its feed from human blood then it naturally causes some irritation on skin surface. If you scratch this area then it can cause big harm soon. In few cases, skin goes raw with such kind of irritations and it may lead to dangerous infections.

Clinical Presentation

When body lice bites you for the very first time then you may observe a tiny red dot on your skin surface and it slowly transforms into certain wheal like inflammations. If this insect keep on injecting saliva again and again into your body then it may lead to several noticeable symptoms like irritability, elevated temperature, join pain, loss of appetite, lassitude, headache, and rashes that look similar to the German Measles. Some of the commonly caused skin issues are shown in body lice pics.

This 2006 photograph depicted a dorsal view of a female body louse, Pediculus humanus var. corporis

Some people with body lice symptoms face too much itching with attach of body lice and it may soon develop allergic reactions or body lice rash while causing troubles like fever etc. When person keeps on scratching the affected area again and again then it may lead to secondary infections. Long term infestation caused by body lice can also cause troubles like skin pigmentation or thickening; this disease is described as “Vagabonds’s disease” in clinical terms.

Body lice treatment or diagnosis

At least there is relaxing news that body lice are not able to make a tunnel inside your skin but most of these tiny insects keep on connected to body hairs and rest stay active on cloths of infested person. The affected person is observed to have at least 10 active lice at a time over skin surface. But yes, their cloths may contain these insects in larger count, may be in hundreds.

You will find these infestation issues more common in winter months as in these days people use to wear multiple layers of cloths and even for longer duration.

How long body lice can affect you?

If you do not have right treatment at right time then body lice may keep on multiplying for unlimited duration of time. But one can get rid of these insects by taking bath more often and wearing clean cloths.

How to prevent body lice troubles?

As we have already discussed that body lice get spread to other people via direct body contact with already affected people; it can also spread when people keep on sharing their bed or clothing. In order to stay away from these bite infections, one need to stop sharing cloths and bedding.

This 2006 photograph depicted a lateral view of a female body louse, Pediculus humanus var. corporis, as it was obtaining a blood-meal from a human host, who in this case, happened to be the photographer.

Also, it is not good to make any close contact with the person who is already affected with this health trouble. The surprising thing is that body lice have ability to live separately from their human host even when person keeps on changing his cloths time to time.

If you are living in a world that is more affected by body lice infections then you need to undergo medical treatments as soon as possible.

Essential treatment available for Body Lice Troubles

It is good to take bath more carefully, right from head up to toe. The best idea to get rid of body lice is to throw away the cloths or bedding that is infected with body lice.

People are advised to wash cloths with hot water and then prefer to dry them at higher temperature settings. The dry cleaning process is well recognised as the process of cleaning when water grows up to 130 degree F. The dry cleaning process helps to kill the eggs of these lice.

Changing clothes

It is well proven that best idea to get rid of this lice issue is to change cloths and bedding time to time. If you have too much body hairs then you may need to avail special treatment for complete elimination of body lice from your body.

Other than this, professional have developed some home based remedies to cure body lice infestation. If you are also affected with this trouble then it is right time to switch to the most effective and easy to implement home solutions as described below. It will help you to know how to get rid of body lice.

Home Remedies for Body Lice

  1. Neem Leaf Extract: There is no doubt to say that Neem has powerful medicinal characteristics and they lead to exceptional results with their antiseptic and antibacterial abilities. One simply needs to take 250 gram Neem leaves and boil them in almost 2 litre water. Now, add this boiled water to your bath tub with the warm water. Now soak your body inside this warm liquid for at least ½ an hour. Prefer to utilize this practice in routine until lice gets completely removed. Another option is to create a paste with Neem leaves and then apply them over whole body like a scrub. When it dries, take a warm bath.Medicinal Ayurvedic Azadirachta indica or Neem leaves
  2. Apricot Leaf Extract: In case if your body lice infestation issue has grown into a big medical trouble with lots of itching then it may cause skin cracking with time. When it continues as it is then one may face major skin infections. Try Apricot Leaf Extract to treat this medical emergency. Simply take a collection of fresh apricot leaves and create a juice out of it. Now simply apply this solution on affected area and let it stay there at least for one hour. After this duration, wash it with warm water and the lesions will start drying and disappearing soon.Apricot kernel oil on pits, stones and fresh apricots
  3. Vinegar: Sometimes this itching sensation caused by body lice goes unbearable and then one needs to find immediate solution to get rid of this trouble. Before the mild itching turns into severe infections or skin lesions, prefer to use this home based remedy to treat it well. All that you need to do is simply take vegetable oil and vinegar in a ratio of 2:1 and then apply this blend on affected area of your body. Let it work there for at least ½ an hour; due to the acidic nature of vinegar solution, it will soon kill the body lice. As vinegar alone can cause harm to affected skin so it is advised to blend it with vegetable oil.Apple Cider Vinegar
  4. Sesame Oil and Drumstick Leaf: Simply collect drumstick leaves in a quantity of 500 grams and create a juice using them. Now take 500 grams of sesame oil and blend both these solutions with each other. Prefer to heat up this solution until the water content evaporates completely and then let it become cool for some time. You can now apply this mix on affected skin area and the best idea is to use it twice a day for at least two weeks. The antibacterial properties of this mixture will help you to get rid of infections.sesame seeds in sack and bottle of sesame oil on wooden rustic table
  5. Calamine Lotion: Body lice usually lead to terrible itching due to extended skin infections. If somehow one can get rid of this itching then it could be a great relief for the sufferer. If person keeps on scratching the affected area then it simply leads to skin cuts and thus bacteria find easy path to enter inside your body. In order to get rid of this itching, prefer to apply calamine lotion to the affected area and then let it dry over there. Calamine lotion is one of the best body lice cure.Calamine Lotion
  6. Essential oils: As we all know that essential oils are capable enough to treat several skin related issues, they can also extend help to soothing and healing of damaged skin area. The damaged skin tissue can be easily repaired with these oils. One of the best selections out of the big list of essential oils is tea tree oil for body lice related trouble. The antibacterial qualities of this essential oil kill body lice effectively. Prefer to mix the tea tree oil into water with a ratio of 1:2 and then apply it on whole body. Let it stay there without washing as the antibacterial property of this blend with keep on fighting against body lice for longer run. You can use this treatment many times in a day; one can also use tea tree oil for complete disinfection of cloths. Just put few drops of oil into hot water and wash your affected cloths with it. Prefer to soak your clothes for at least ½ an hour inside the liquid and then wash with quality detergent.
  7. Mustard Oil and Fenugreek Seeds: You might be aware of the fact that Fenugreek seeds use to have antiseptic, antifungal and antibacterial properties. They can kill the body lice effectively whereas the smell of mustard oil also kills their eggs present in the affected area. Simply take fenugreek seeds in one tablespoon and put it into water. Let them stay inside for whole night so that they can become softer. By the morning, prefer to create a smooth paste by grinding these seeds and then blend it with mustard oil. Now simply apply this paste over affected area of your skin and let it dry over there for at least half an hour. Now you can have a bath. A cup with mustard, a glass with mustard seeds and a jug with mustard oil on a white wooden tray.

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