Signs of Body Lice
Common signs of body lice include intense itching and an unexplained rash. Other symptoms that may indicate an infestation include small red bumps or sores on the body, which are caused by scratching. When looking for an infestation, other signs of body lice include the actual presence of insects on a person or in the clothing. Nits (eggs), nymphs, and adults can all be present.
Body lice are blood-sucking insects that are transmitted through contact with infested clothing, towels, or bed linens, or by direct body-to-body contact.
Symptoms and signs of body lice include:
- Frequent, intense itching (caused by an allergic reaction to the saliva of the lice).
- Unexplained rash.
- Small, red bumps or sores on the body. These sores, which are caused by scratching, can sometimes become infected with bacteria or fungi. Infected sores may become red and tender, ooze, and then may crust over.
Long-term body lice infestations may lead to thickening and discoloration of the skin, particularly around the waist, groin, and upper thighs.
Body lice are not found on the head. That is known as head lice, and is caused by a different type of lice.
There are three forms of lice:
- The egg (also called a nit)
- The nymph
- The adult.
(Click What Do Lice Look Like? to see the actual size of the three forms of lice compared to a penny.)
Nits are the eggs of body lice. They are quite small (about the size of a knot in thread) and hard to see. Nits are laid by the adult females. They are generally easy to see in the seams of clothing, particularly around the waistline and under armpits. They may also be firmly attached to the hair shaft. They are oval and usually yellow to white in color. Nits take about one week to hatch.