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. Lice causes severe itching. Itching is usually worse around the waist, under the arms, and places where clothing is tighter and closer to the body (such as near bra straps). You may have red bumps on your skin. The bumps may scab or become crusty after scratching. Skin around the waist or groin may become thickened or change color if you have been infected with lice in that area for a long time.
In Australia more than 50 percent of the general population may be infested.
Body lice mainly live in clothing. To get rid of lice, destroy infected clothing or carefully wash items in hot water (at least 130 degrees F), then machine dry using a hot cycle. Your doctor may also prescribe a cream that you put on your skin or a wash that contains permethrin, malathione, or benzyl alcohol. Bathing and washing clothes, bedding, and towels are most important steps in treating lice. Doing these things usually gets rid of the problem.
The research was funded by CONACYT, the Royal Society and BBSRC. New research led by the University of Bath's Milner Centre for Evolution, in collaboration with scientists based at the University of Illinois in the USA and the Sanger Centre in Cambridge, has found differences in the way that head and body lice read genetic information.