Pubic Lice

Pubic lice, more commonly known as the “crabs,” are a parasite (Pthirus pubis) that is microscopic in size, with a rounded head and three pairs of legs on each side and that reside in the pubic hair of both females and males.

The lice live in warm and moist environments such as the pubic hair, armpit hair, beards, and eyelashes, where they feed on the blood of their human host. They lay their eyes on the hair shaft close to the skin and take seven–to-ten days to hatch.

Transmission: 

Lice are most often transmitted by genital-to-genital contact, with or without a condom. More rarely, lice can be passed by sharing sex toys, or by coming into contact with bed sheets or clothing of an infected individual. It is nearly impossible to catch lice from a toilet seat or other surface, as lice do not survive long away from a human body and cannot hang on to smooth surfaces.

Prevention: 

Transmission of lice can be prevented by avoiding genital-to-genital contact with an affected person. Condoms do not prevent the transmission of pubic lice because they do not cover the pubic hair.

Symptoms: 

Infected people will experience a strong itching sensation in and around the affected region.

Diagnosis: 

A health care provider can diagnose an infection with pubic lice with a physical examination of the area.

Treatment: 

Lice can be killed with a topical pesticide lotion. Because lice eggs can adhere to pubic hair, an infected person may need to use a fine-toothed comb or fingernails to remove eggs and prevent new lice from hatching. Clothing and bedding that has been used by the infected person will also need to be washed with hot water to kill lice and eggs.

For More Information: 

The CDC STD fact sheets are a good source of current, accurate information about STDs, as well as the American Social Health Association.

Disclaimer: 
This information is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for medical advice. If you have any symptoms that you suspect may indicate an STD or other infection, please consult a doctor or medical professional. A good resource for STD testing, treatment and family planning services is http://www.plannedparenthood.org.
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