Do you suffer from a body lice infestation? Has your skin become red and disfigured due to body lice infestation?
Do you want to know how to get rid of body lice using home remedies? If so, this article is for you. In this article, we are going to discuss the causes and symptoms of Body lice and how to get rid of body lice.
Before that, do the home remedies for body lice actually work or are they just another myth? Can body lice infestation be prevented? Are body lice’s bites lethal? Kindly read on to find out.
What is Body lice? What Do Body Lice Look Like? How it is different from head lice.
Body Lice are parasitic insects that feed on human blood. They infest a person’s body and his or her clothing. They are different from other types of lice. There are totally three types of lice. They are:
- Head Lice: These lice are similar in appearance and size to body lice. They are found on the scalp of a person. They feed on human blood, dandruff, and dirt on the scalp.
- Body Lice: These lice are similar in appearance and size to head lice (They are slightly bigger). They feed exclusively on human blood. They can be found on the body and clothes of a person.
- Pubic Lice: These lice have a crab-like appearance. They can be found on the genitals of a person and his or her underwear.
Body lice are similar in appearance and size to head lice. They have a head, thorax, and abdomen (which is the largest part of their body). They have six legs and are slightly red in color due to the blood ingested. They feed exclusively on human blood and are found on a person’s body and his dirty clothes.
Head lice are slightly smaller than body lice and are more common. They are black or reddish-black in color. They are only found on a person’s scalp. They feed on blood, dirt, and dandruff on a person’s scalp.
Where do Body lice come from? How do body lice live? Their lifecycle?
Body Lice thrive in dirty places like refugee camps, slums, near garbage, near drainage water etcetera. They can get on the body of a person via contact with dirty clothes, contact (sleeping on) with dirty beds, or contact with a person who’s infected by body lice.
Body Lice either live on the body of a person (anywhere on his body), on one’s dirty clothes, or under one’s dirty bed. Body lice like dark and cool places. Hence, they prefer to live under the folds of clothing or under dirty beds. On the body, they are commonly found around the neck, shoulders, armpits, waist, and groin.
The Life cycle of lice can be categorized into three main stages. They are:
The eggs of body lice are called Nits. They are white in color and about the same size as flakes of dandruff. Hence, they are often confused with dandruff. Female lice lay their nits on one’s neck, close to one’s hair.
Nits are only about 0.3 to 0.8 millimeters long and are difficult to spot. Nits take about one week ( 6 to 9 days) to hatch. Nits are oval in shape, just like regular eggs.
Hatchlings of body lice are called Nymphs. Nymphs are pale yellow in color and initially attach themselves to the hair shafts. Nymphs are about 2 millimeters long. Nymphs take about a week to mature into adult body lice.
They shed their exoskeleton thrice before maturing into adult lice. The process of Nymphs shedding their exoskeleton is called molting.
Adult lice can grow up to 4 millimeters long. They can be white or reddish-white in color. They feed exclusively on human blood. They have the typical structure of an insect. They have a head, thorax, and abdomen (this is the largest part of their body) and they have six legs. Female lice are larger than males.
When lice breed, female lice can lay up to eight nits in a day. Lice have a lifespan of 30 days on a person’s body. They can survive for up to two days outside a person’s body at room temperature. Lice feed frequently when on a person’s body. They need a regular supply of human blood to thrive.
How common is body lice? How do I know if I have body lice? Does body lice bite?
Body Lice are quite rare. They are only found in extremely dirty places like refugee camps, slums, near garbage dumps, etcetera. If you have red, itchy bumps on your skin, there is a good chance that you are infested with body lice. The symptoms of body lice infestation include:
- Intense itching all over the body. This condition is scientifically called Pruritus.
- Red bumps on the skin.
- Rashes caused due to body lice bites (allergic reaction to the chemicals present in lice’s saliva).
- Black or darkened skin where the lice dwell on the body.
Body lice do bite humans and that too very frequently in a day. This is because they need a frequent supply of human blood to survive and thrive. When body lice bite humans, they develop rashes all over their bodies. This is due to an allergic reaction to the chemicals present in lice’s saliva.
Body Lice typically bite those parts of the human body that are in constant contact with dirty clothes like neck, shoulders, armpits, waist, and groin.
Can body lice transmit diseases? How fast they spread in the body and how does your body react to it?
Yes, body lice can transmit deadly diseases like epidemic typhus, trench fever, and relapsing fever. The instances of these diseases are rare as living conditions have improved these days and war is less frequent. However, these diseases still occur and spread from unclean places like refugee camps, slums, prisons, etcetera.
The diseases caused by lice bites are communicable. They spread quite rapidly. Some lice borne diseases like epidemic typhus and relapsing fever are fatal. Even if you don’t get these diseases from lice bites, you will get rashes all over your body.
This is due to an allergic reaction to the chemicals present in lice’s saliva by our skins. Intense itching and red bumps on the skin are other common symptoms of lice bites.
How Is Body Lice Discovered and Diagnosed? Can it be Dangerous for health?
Body Lice are big enough to be seen by the naked eye. Sometimes, one may need to use a magnifying glass to detect them, especially nits and nymphs. Body Lice that have fed on human blood will appear red or reddish-white in color.
The bites of body lice are not lethal. They only cause inconveniences like red bumps and rashes on the skin. However, sometimes lice may be carriers of deadly viruses that cause diseases like epidemic typhus, trench fever, and relapsing fever.
What Populations Are Most Likely to Get a Case of Body Lice? Can black people also get lice?
People who live in crowded and unclean places get infested with body lice. It must be noted that unlike some people, body lice do not distinguish between white, brown or black people.
They infest any person living in an unclean environment like a prison, refugee camps, slums, etcetera. It must also be noted that animals living in dirty environments do not get infected by or spread body lice. Body Lice feed only on human blood.
How to Successfully treat and control a Case of Body Lice?
Medical technology has advanced tremendously these days. Therefore there are many ointments and lotions available to cure body lice. Rather than spending money on them, you can try these simple home remedies first. They have been proven to be effective. The home remedies to get rid of body lice are:
Fenugreek seeds have anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-microbial properties. Hence, they can kill body lice easily. Their strong odor also degrades the growth of nits and nymphs.
Grind one cup of fenugreek seeds and mix them with half a cup of water to form a thick paste. Add and mix one tablespoon of mustard oil to this paste. Then apply the paste on the affected areas of your body. Let your body soak the paste for 30 minutes.
Then wash it off. Doing this therapy for one week continuously will kill all the body lice on your body.
Camphor and coconut oil
Camphor and coconut oil have antibacterial and anti-microbial properties. Their strong odor also slows down the growth of nits and nymphs. Dissolve one tablespoon of camphor in half a cup of coconut oil and apply the solution on the affected areas of your body.
Let your body soak this solution for 30 minutes. Repeat this treatment daily for one week to completely get rid of body lice.
Tea tree oil and Yogurt
Tea tree oil has healing properties that can cure red bumps on the skin and rashes caused by lice bites. Yogurt has antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-microbial properties. Together, they can kill body lice and heal the skin.
Dissolve half a cup of tea tree oil in one cup of Yogurt and apply this solution on the affected areas of your body. In one week’s time, your body will be free of body lice, rashes, and red bumps. This solution can also get rid of itchiness and skin inflammation caused by lice bites.
Neem oil has anti-microbial, anti-fungal, antibacterial, and antiseptic properties. Hence, it can get rid of body lice easily. It is also effective in curing red bumps on the skin and rashes on our bodies.
Apply neem oil on the affected areas of your skin and let your skin soak it for 30 minutes. Then wash it off or take a bath.
Lavender oil has antimicrobial and antiseptic properties. Its strong fragrance also curtails the growth of nits and nymphs. Lavender oil is also effective at curing red bumps, black patches, or rashes on the skin.
Hence, one can use lavender oil to kill body lice and cure their bite symptoms. Apply lavender oil on the affected areas of your skin continuously for one week to get rid of body lice and their infestation symptoms.
Apricot has antimicrobial properties. It is also effective at curing itchiness, red bumps, and rashes on the skin caused by lice bites. Apply apricot juice on the affected areas of your skin and let your skin soak it for 30 minutes. Then wash it off with water.
Drumstick leaves oil and sesame oil
Drumstick leaves oil has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that get rid of body lice. Sesame oil cures the skin of itchiness, red bumps, black patches, and rashes caused by lice bites. Hence, these two oils get rid of body lice and cure the symptoms of their infestation.
Mix half a cup of these two oils together and apply the mixture on the affected areas of your skin. Let your skin soak the oil for 30 minutes. Then take a bath to get rid of the oils.
Vinegar and any oil
Vinegar has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. It easily kills body lice and cures their infestation symptoms like itchiness, red bumps, dark patches, and rashes. Vinegar is scientifically known as Acetic Acid. If applied to your skin alone, it can corrode your skin, cause redness, and swelling. Hence you can mix half a cup of vinegar with one cup of any oil like neem oil, sesame oil, coconut oil, or vegetable oil to protect your skin from the acidity of the vinegar.
Take a hot shower
Body Lice cannot survive in extreme temperatures (like cold or warm temperatures). They can only survive and thrive at room temperature. Hence, taking a hot shower will kill the body lice. Applying a suitable oil or ointment to your body will also cure your body of body lice bite symptoms.
The same rule goes for your clothes. If you wash your clothes with warm water and detergents, it’s a fool-proof way of getting rid of body lice, nits, and nymphs on your clothes.
When should you call a doctor? Can it be really serious?
Body Lice bites are not usually fatal or dangerous. They just cause an allergic reaction like red bumps on the skin or rashes. However, sometimes their symptoms may be severe and they do not get cured easily. You should consult a doctor regarding body lice infestation if:
- Your symptoms are getting worse by the day.
- Your body lice infestation does not get cured despite applying home remedies or ointments.
- When you are experiencing a fever due to body lice infestation.
- When you see pus oozing out from the infected areas on your body.
How to prevent body lice from entering the body? Steps to be followed.
Body Lice thrive in dirty places. They enter our bodies via the dirty clothes we wear, the dirty beds we sleep on, and the dirty surroundings we live in.
To prevent body lice from entering our body, we need to keep ourselves and our surroundings clean. We also need to avoid contact with infected persons and their clothes.
Prevention is always better than cure. It is better to keep yourself and your surroundings clean and prevent a body lice infestation than spend money on its remedies. If your body lice do not go away even after applying home remedies or commercially available ointments.
If your symptoms get worse by the day and if you see pus oozing out from the infected areas on your body, it’s an indication that you should consult a doctor regarding body lice. Remember, “Cleanliness is close to Godliness”. So keep yourself clean and healthy.
How long can body lice live on clothes?
When body lice fall off a person, they die within 48 hours if they do not find a suitable host. However, on dirty clothes, they can live up to 30 days without feeding on a host.
Can body lice live on dirty carpets?
No, even if the carpet is dirty, they cannot live on it. Body lice need to feed on human hosts. The only way they can get on a person’s body is through his or her dirty clothes or via his or her dirty bed.
Somebody lice stick to a person’s clothes and feed on his or her blood. Others get on a person’s body and feed while clinging to his or her body hair.
Can applying alcohol on one’s body get rid of body lice?
Surprisingly, it can! Alcohol can get even body lice into a ‘drunk state’. When you apply alcohol to the affected areas, body lice on your body will drink it and get into a drunk state. They will then lose their grip on your body hair and fall off.
Are body lice and mites one and the same thing?
No, they are not. Body lice can be found on the surface of your skin. They cling on to your body hair and drink your blood. This condition is called pediculosis. Mites dig their way under your skin and drink your blood. This condition is called scabies.