Medical Encyclopedia


Medical Encyclopedia

Other encyclopedia topics:  A-Ag  Ah-Ap  Aq-Az  B-Bk  Bl-Bz  C-Cg  Ch-Co  Cp-Cz  D-Di  Dj-Dz  E-Ep  Eq-Ez  F  G  H-Hf  Hg-Hz  I-In  Io-Iz  J  K  L-Ln  Lo-Lz  M-Mf  Mg-Mz  N  O  P-Pl  Pm-Pz  Q  R  S-Sh  Si-Sp  Sq-Sz  T-Tn  To-Tz  U  V  W  X  Y  Z  0-9 

Body lice

Contents of this page:


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

Alternative Names    Return to top

Lice - body

Definition    Return to top

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.

Causes    Return to top

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    Return to top

Exams and Tests    Return to top

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    Return to top

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.

Outlook (Prognosis)    Return to top

With effective treatment, the lice can be completely eliminated.

Possible Complications    Return to top

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

When to Contact a Medical Professional    Return to top

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

Prevention    Return to top

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

Update Date: 10/28/2008

Updated 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.

A.D.A.M. Logo

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician 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. Copyright 1997-2009, A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.