This usually involved running a lighted candle down the seam of one’s clothes, where the lice were most often located. Another method was to soak clothes in naphthalene. De-lousing was a social activity: it gave the soldiers an opportunity to get together and talk while working on a common goal.
Unfortunately, as soon as the lice were dead their eggs would hatch and their offspring would simply take their place. Since each female louse could produce up to 12 eggs per day, it was generally a losing battle.
Beyond the maddening itching and futile scratching, the lice produced blotchy red marks across the body and left a faintly sour smell. Furthermore, lice were responsible for the spread of trench fever and typhus. Once a louse had sucked the blood of one infected soldier, it spread disease to all subsequent hosts. Due to the very close proximity of the soldiers in the trenches and their poor sanitation, these diseases were rampant, eventually leading to a 15% trench casualty rate.