What are body lice? (28 characters)

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Body lice require human blood to survive and can transmit infectious diseases. They thrive in unsanitary environments and can be passed through direct contact. Treatment involves hygiene practices and topical medications. Nits can survive for up to a month. Diagnosis is made through a visual exam and symptoms include skin irritation and intense itching. Proper hygiene and topical treatment can eradicate lice and prevent re-infestation.

Body lice are parasitic insects that require blood from a human host to survive. Treatment to get rid of body lice requires responsible hygiene practices, such as showering or bathing with soap. If additional treatment is needed, topical over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications can be used to clear the infestation. Historically, lice have been known to transmit infectious diseases, including typhus.

Lice thrive in densely populated, unsanitary environments and can easily be passed from one person to another through direct interpersonal contact. Since unsanitary conditions also favor louse, individuals who do not bathe regularly are considered an ideal host. It is important to remember that body lice do not discriminate and can attach themselves to any human host they come in contact with. Lice that separate from a human host or are somehow removed from clothing survive less than a week unless a new host is found.

Nits, or louse eggs, deposited by adult lice in the seams of fabric can survive without any human contact for up to a month before they expire. Once fully mature, body lice are considered the largest member of the lice family. Also known as Pediculus humanus corporis, an adult louse can grow to a length of 2 mm (1/8 inch) or slightly larger. Equipped with six legs and no wings, an adult louse is light in color which can range from almost light to reddish brown.

A diagnosis of body lice can easily be made with a visual exam. Although an individual usually has telltale signs of skin irritation, the presence of the louse itself is easily identified. Body lice can usually be seen moving around inside one’s clothing and, if the infestation is severe, can also be seen on the skin. Often, in the seams of your clothes, you can find nits, usually opaque and yellowish in color. As a precautionary measure, people diagnosed with body lice are usually also checked for head and pubic lice.

Generally, body lice gravitate to areas where the skin folds or folds, such as the armpits and groin region. In their wake, lice will leave behind an inflammation of the skin where they bite and feed. Individuals will often experience intense itching which, with aggressive scratching, can lead to secondary bacterial infections. It is not uncommon for individuals to develop bumps and a rash-like irritation in areas where lice repeatedly feed. Prolonged infestation can also contribute to changes in skin texture and pigmentation.

Proper hygiene and regular showering with warm water and soap are usually enough to rid the body of lice. Individuals with a heavy lice infestation may require additional topical treatment to eradicate any remaining lice and relieve skin irritation. Antibiotics can be used to clear the infection. In addition, clothes and personal items must be cleaned thoroughly to rid them of nits and prevent re-infestation.

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