The short answer is no, head lice and body lice have similar characteristics, but they are not the same. Here are some tips for distinguishing head lice from body lice:
Adults are about the size of a sesame seed, around 2-3 mm in length and brownish in color. You can see them attach to the hairs of the head near the base of the hair shaft and they go to the scalp to lay eggs.
Adults are slightly longer than head lice, 2.3-3.6mm in length. Still, they’re very similar in appearance. They are also brownish in color and have two antennae on their heads. Body lice aren’t found in the same locations as head lice. In fact, they only go to the human body to feed.
How Do You Catch Them
These are caught when you come into close contact with infected people, especially their hair. Head lice cannot jump or fly, instead, they crawl from one host to another. Even objects, such as clothes, hats, combs or brushes seldomly transmit lice as the lice die within a day without human blood.
Body lice can spread via direct contact and through contact with items that are carrying the lice. As previously mentioned, body lice don’t stay on the body, they dwell in items such as clothing, bedding and towels, only making their way to the body to feed.
Who is at Risk of Catching Lice?
Head lice occur primarily among children of preschool and elementary school age. Since direct, head-to-head contact is the main way the lice are transmitted, young kids at school are most likely to get infestations. According to the CDC, 6-12 million infestations occur each year in the U.S. to children. More girls get head lice than boys because of their long hair, which is easier for the critters to climb on to.
While body lice usually require direct person-to-person contact, the creatures tend to thrive in crowded conditions, messy environments and on those with poor hygiene. People in places like homeless shelters and other crammed dwellings are susceptible to body lice infestations, which can spread quickly in such conditions.