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Body Lice


Body lice are tiny bugs that hide in soiled clothes and bedding. They crawl onto your body to bite you and feed on blood. Body lice like to bite soft skin areas where clothes fit tight to the body, such as the groin, waist, or armpits. Body lice are light gray and about the size of a sesame seed. They lay eggs in the seams and folds of clothing and bedsheets.


Avoid contact to prevent the spread of body lice:

Do not have close body contact with anyone until all your lice are gone.

Take a hot bath or shower and wash clothes and bedding:

This will usually get rid of body lice. Wash all clothes, towels, and sheets in hot, soapy water. Dry them on the hot cycle for at least 20 minutes. Items that cannot be washed or dry cleaned should be sealed in an airtight plastic bag for 2 weeks. Wear clean clothes and use clean towels and sheets. Do not share towels and sheets with others.


  • Lice medicine: You can buy lice shampoo, lotion, or cream without a doctor's order. Apply these medicines to your body. Use them as directed. Do not use these products on children under 2 years old. Throw away all lice medicine that you do not use. Keep it away from your eyes.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Contact your primary healthcare provider if:

  • Your body lice do not go away, even after treatment.
  • The lice bites become filled with pus or crusty, or your skin has a bad smell.
  • Your skin burns, stings, swells, or is numb after you use lice medicine.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You are dizzy or have nausea and vomiting after you use lice medicine.
  • You have areas on your skin that are red, swollen, warm, or tender, and you have a fever.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Body Lice (Discharge Care)

IBM Watson Micromedex

Symptoms and treatments

Mayo Clinic Reference