While body lice and head lice share many similarities, they have different health effects and different habitats. While head lice primarily feed on the scalp, body lice also live on the body and are often found in the creases of dirty clothes. In a new study, researchers have determined that head lice and body lice are the same species, but their genomes are different.
Body lice are very small parasitic insects that usually live on the clothing of infected people. They can also be found on the body, though not as common as head lice. Body lice spend most of their time in clothing and feed on the blood of the host. They lay their eggs on clothing near the skin and hatch within a week due to the body heat. If they remain close to the host, they will develop into adult lice in nine days.
Head lice are spread through head-to-head contact, although they can also be spread through shared clothes and belongings. These lice lay their eggs on the scalp and other parts of the body. While the risk of getting infested by a louse from body lice is small, you should still avoid head-to-head contact with a head lice infested person.
The main difference between body lice and head lice is that head lice live in the hair of the head, but they can also migrate to other parts of the body. While head lice can be a nuisance, body lice are a direct health risk.