What You Need to Know About Body Lice
The nit hatches into a baby body louse called a nymph. It looks like an adult body louse, but is smaller. To live, the nymph must feed on blood.
Adult Body Louse
The adult louse is about the size of a sesame seed, has six legs, and is tan to grayish-white in color. Adult lice can live up to 30 days on a person's body. To live, adult lice need to feed on blood. If the body louse does not get a blood meal, it dies within 10 days.
The most common symptom of body lice is frequent, intense itching. This is because the saliva of the body lice causes an allergic reaction.
Long-term infestations may lead to thickening and discoloration of the skin, particularly around the waist, groin, and upper thighs.
(Click Signs of Body Lice for other possible signs and symptoms.)
A body lice diagnosis is made by looking closely in the seams of clothing and on the body for eggs and for crawling lice. They are most commonly seen along the seams of clothing. It is not uncommon for clothing to contain several hundred active lice. The body usually has a lot fewer active lice. Typically, when diagnosing body lice, the body will contain less than ten active lice.
Body lice live primarily on clothing. Therefore, in a lot of cases, an infestation can be treated by giving the person a clean change of clothes and a shower, and by laundering or throwing away all worn clothing, bed linens, and towels. In some cases, medications may be needed in order to treat an infestation.
(Click Treatment for Body Lice to learn more, including what medications may be needed.)