Are Body Lice and Head Lice the Same?

Are Body Lice and Head Lice the Same?

While head lice and body lice are technically the same species, there are some significant differences between them. Body lice have a larger size, cling to clothing and can transmit disease. A recent study aims to determine if body lice and head lice are really the same. Researchers compared the sequences of all protein-coding genes in head lice and body lice.

The main difference between head lice and body lice is their size. Body lice are much larger than head lice and can easily infest children and the elderly. They live on clothing and bedding and spread easily through close contact. They are also capable of transmitting serious diseases, such as typhus and louse-borne relapsing fever. Fortunately, prevention of body lice infestations can be easy with good hygiene.

Body lice look like small, discolored dots. They can grow into a ring, and may be extremely itchy. They live in clothing and bedding, and may appear on hair and skin. Long-term infestations may cause a darker skin tone and skin rash. A person suffering from body lice should consult a doctor for treatment, since the infection can cause more serious problems.

Head lice prefer the head, but they can migrate to other parts of the body. Body lice usually stay in the seams of clothing, and they only come into contact with the body when they need to feed.