Prevention & Control

Body lice are spread most commonly by direct contact with an infested person or an infested person’s clothing or bedding. Body lice usually infest persons who do not launder and change their clothes regularly.

The following are steps that can be taken to 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 of body lice for certain diseases (epidemic typhus).
Page last reviewed: September 12, 2019