Body lice are tiny insects, about the size of a sesame seed. Body lice live in your clothing and bedding and travel to your skin several times a day to feed on blood. The most common sites for bites are around the waist, groin and armpits — places where clothing seams are most likely to touch skin.
Body lice are most common in crowded and unhygienic living conditions, such as refugee camps and shelters for the homeless. Body lice bites can spread certain types of diseases and can even cause epidemics.
Clothing and bedding that have been infested with body lice should be laundered in hot, soapy water and machine dried using the hot cycle.
Body lice are primarily treated by thoroughly washing yourself and any contaminated items with soap and hot water.
If these measures don't work, you can try using an over-the-counter lotion or shampoo — such as Nix or Rid. If that still doesn't work, your doctor can provide a prescription lotion. Lice-killing products can be toxic to humans, so follow the directions carefully.
You can usually get rid of body lice by cleaning yourself and any personal belongings that may be contaminated. Wash infested bedding, clothing and towels with hot, soapy water — at least 130 F (54 C) — and machine dry them on high heat for at least 20 minutes.
Items that can't be washed may be sealed in a plastic bag for two weeks.