Lice of the pubic area

What Are Pubic Lice?

Pubic lice, or more commonly known as crabs, are tiny parasites that live on humans in the pubic area.They are transmitted from one person to another through sexual contact or close body contact and are rarely spread through contact with clothing. Pubic lice are generally found living on coarse body hair such as pubic hair or facial hair. These parasites feed on blood and can cause severe itching, skin irritations, and in rare cases, infections.

Signs and Symptoms of Pubic Lice

The most common sign of pubic lice infestation is itching in the genital area. This itching is caused by an allergic reaction to the saliva of the lice and usually begins 1-2 weeks after becoming infested. Other signs of pubic lice may include:

  • Small bruises in the genital area (caused by the lice biting into the skin to feed)
  • Gray or white dots on the skin (lice eggs, known as nits)
  • Foul odor coming from the genital area
  • Reddish patches of skin in the genital area

Treating Pubic Lice

Pubic lice can easily be treated with over-the-counter (OTC) lice shampoo. OTC lice shampoos usually contain the insecticides Permethrin or Pyrethrum and are generally effective at killing lice and their eggs. It’s important to follow the instructions on the package carefully when using these treatments. An infested person should also treat their sexual partner to prevent re-infestation.

Preventing Pubic Lice

The best way to prevent pubic lice infestations is to abstain from engaging in sexual activity or to practice safe sex, such as using condoms and dental dams. It is also important to avoid sharing towels, bedding, and clothing with someone who may be carrying lice.