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Body and Pubic Lice

Body Lice

Body lice are small insects that live on the clothing or bedding of humans and feed on human blood. People who live in crowded, unsanitary conditions and do not shower or have access to clean clothing are more likely to get body lice. Body lice can cause intense itching and a rash caused by an allergic reaction to the bites of the lice. Scratching can cause sores, which may lead to bacterial or fungal infections. Body lice can spread diseases to humans, including epidemic typhus, trench fever, and louse-borne relapsing fever, but these diseases are rare in the United States.Life stages of body lice (egg, nymph, adult)

The signs of body lice include finding lice and their eggs (called nits) in the seams of clothing, or sometimes crawling or biting and feeding on the skin. To prevent or get rid of body lice, clothing, bedding, and towels should be washed at least once per week in hot water and then placed in a clothes dryer on the hot cycle. It is also important to shower or bathe regularly and avoid sharing clothing and other items with someone who has body lice.

Pubic Lice

Pubic lice (also known as "crabs") are tiny insects that live on pubic hair in the genital area of humans and feed on human blood. Pubic lice may sometimes attach to hairs on the legs, chest, armpits, beard, eyebrows, and eyelashes, but rarely on hair on the head (pubic lice are not the same as head lice). Pubic lice are usually spread through close or sexual contact, but are sometimes spread by sharing clothes, bedding, or towels used by someone who has pubic lice. Pubic lice can cause intense itching in the genital area, which may lead to sores. Pubic lice do not spread diseases to humans. 

Life stages of pubic lice: egg, nymph, adult

Over-the-counter products and prescription medication are available for the treatment of pubic lice — follow instructions listed on the product label or given by a healthcare provider. To prevent pubic lice, avoid sexual contact with someone who has pubic lice until they have been properly treated. Do not share clothes, bedding, or towels with someone who has pubic lice, and if you have shared these items, wash them in hot water and place them in a clothes dryer on the hot cycle.

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