Hygiene-related Diseases

Body Lice

Body lice, or Pediculus humanus corporis, are parasitic insects that can live and lay eggs on clothing and only move to the skin to feed on human blood. Lice are spread most commonly by close person-to-person contact. Body lice infestation is found worldwide.

Good hygiene can help prevent and control the spread of body lice:

  • Bathe regularly and change into properly laundered clothes at least once a week; launder infested clothing at least once a week.
  • Machine wash and dry infested clothing and bedding using the hot water (at least 130°F) laundry cycle and the high heat drying cycle. Clothing and items that are not washable can be dry-cleaned OR sealed in a plastic bag and stored for 2 weeks.
  • Do not share clothing, beds, bedding, and towels used by an infested person.
  • Fumigation or dusting with chemical insecticides sometimes is necessary to control and prevent the spread by body lice of certain diseases (epidemic typhus).

For more information on body lice, please visit CDC’s body lice page.

Page last reviewed: July 26, 2016