Itchy skin is a common symptom associated with many medical issues, including infections, allergic reactions, and disorders. However, when uncontrollable itching all over the body is associated with a parasite, it’s time to take a more proactive stance. Home remedies for body lice infestation can help soothe some of the symptoms, as well as gain control over the accumulation of the human body louse.
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What are Body Lice?
Sometimes called the ‘clothes louse,’ body lice are tiny parasites (known as Pediculus humanus corporis), which spread through close contact with other people. There are three types of parasitic pests that are found on the human body – body, head and pubic. Body lice feed on human blood and can live in the seams and folds of clothing for up to one month. They reproduce by laying eggs on the skin and clothing. This is also where they leave behind waste matter. Out of all the types of lice a human can contract, body lice are the largest. Adult body lice can reach 2.3 to 3.6 mm in length. Only the body louse is known to spread disease .
A body lice infestation typically develops when you practice poor hygiene or live in overcrowded conditions. An infestation is unlikely to occur if you bathe on a regular basis or have weekly access to freshly laundered clothing and bedding.
Causes and Symptoms
Lice infestations are most commonly spread through close person-to-person contact. Pets and other animals do not figure into the transmission of human lice. The lice move about the body by crawling. Body lice need to stay on a host to live. If they fall off, the pests die within about 5 to 7 days under room temperature conditions .
The lice cause severe itching that usually worsens around your waist, under the arms, near bra straps, or any place that clothing is tight and close to the body. Red bumps may develop on the skin, which scab over or become crusty after they are scratched. When lice are present for a long period of time, affected skin around the waist or groin may become thicker or change color.
Body Lice Infestation Home Remedies
Effective treatment can eradicate human body lice, and cleanliness plays a huge role in fighting off the pests. In addition to making changes in hygiene, there are home remedies for body lice infestation you may want to consider. A handful of suggestions include the following:
a) Vinegar and Vegetable Oil:
To treat the red scaly bumps and itchiness of a body lice infestation, create a remedy using a 1:2 ratio of vinegar and vegetable oil. Apply the mixture all over your body, and leave on for 30 minutes. The acidic nature of the vinegar will kill body lice, while the vegetable oil provides a protective layer that prevents skin damage. The mixture also prevents body lice from sinking their fangs into human skin.
b) Calamine Lotion:
Fight the itchiness of a body lice infestation by applying calamine lotion to affected skin. Allow the liquid to dry. Sometimes, body lice are even killed when they become trapped under the dried lotion.
c) Do Not Scratch:
To avoid developing an infection related to a body lice infestation, resist the urge to scratch itchy skin. In rare cases, the lice may carry uncommon diseases, such as trench fever.
d) Hot Wash Cycle:
It is important to wash clothing infested with body lice in hot water to kill the pests and their eggs. Water temperature should be at least 130 degrees and drying should be set to the hot cycle. Depending on the item, some clothing pieces will just have to be thrown out. Body lice love to hide away in clothing so clean clothes play a significant role in controlling a body lice infestation.
e) Rubbing Alcohol:
To prevent reinfestation of body lice, make sure to soak personal hygiene tools in rubbing alcohol to kill lice and their eggs. It is recommended to leave the items in the alcohol for at least one hour.
f) Change of Clothes:
A regular change of clean clothing and bedding is important to combat a body lice infestation.
Essential oils and other ingredients found in the antiseptic wonder known as Listerine are thought to kill lice. The popular mouthwash contains eucalyptol, alcohol, thymol, menthol, and methyl salicylate, which can help control a body lice infestation when rubbed on the body.
h) Cold Soaks:
Dipping your body into a cold soak can help calm the intensity of itching associated with a body lice infestation.
A thorough vacuuming of your house and car will help fight a body lice infestation by killing the pests and their eggs.
j) Coconut Milk:
Some people prefer to use the powerful scent of coconut to fight lice, as it is said that the pests dislike the odor. Try bathing in coconut milk to get rid of body lice.
k) Plastic Bags:
If you are unable to wash certain items, seal in a plastic bag for two weeks to get rid of the lice. Since body lice cannot live without a host for more than seven days, they will die. Contaminated belongings should be kept in the plastic for up to two weeks to make sure both the lice and any eggs are destroyed.