Are Pubic Lice?
Pubic lice, also known as crabs, are
very small insects that infest your genital area. There are three types of lice
that infest humans:
humanus capitis: head lice
humanus corporis: body lice
pubis: pubic lice
Lice feed on human blood and cause intense
itching in affected areas. Pubic lice usually live on pubic hair and are spread
through sexual contact. In rare cases, they can be found in eyelashes, armpit
hair, and facial hair. Pubic lice are often smaller than body and head lice.
Pubic lice infestations are more common among
people who have sexually transmitted infections.
You Can Get Pubic Lice
Pubic lice are typically transmitted through
intimate contact, including sexual intercourse. It’s also possible to catch pubic
lice by using the blankets, towels, sheets, or clothing of people who have
Adult lice lay their eggs on the hair shaft,
near the skin. These eggs are called nits. Seven to 10 days later, the nits hatch into nymphs and start feeding on
your blood. The lice can live without their food supply for one to two days.
Contrary to common belief, you’re highly
unlikely to get pubic lice from a toilet seat or furniture. Pubic lice usually don’t
fall off of their host unless they’re dead. They also can’t jump from one
person to another like fleas.
Don’t allow your children to sleep in your
bed if you have a pubic lice infestation. Children may get an infestation after
sleeping in the same bed as someone who has pubic lice. In children, the lice
usually live in their eyelashes or eyebrows. The presence of pubic lice in a
child might also indicate sexual abuse.
the Signs of Pubic Lice
People with pubic lice often experience
itching in their genital region or anus about five days after the initial
infestation. At night, the itching will become more intense. Other common
symptoms of pubic lice include:
- low-grade fever
- lack of energy
- pale bluish spots near the bites
Excessive itching may cause wounds or an infection
in the affected areas. Children with lice infestations on their eyelashes are
also at risk of developing conjunctivitis (pink eye).
You can usually diagnose yourself by
thoroughly examining your pubic area. You can use a magnifying glass to look
for pubic lice if you suspect an infestation but can’t see well enough to be
Lice are usually pale gray, but they can darken
in color after drinking your blood. You’re probably infested with lice if you
see small, crab-shaped insects moving in your pubic hair.
Lice eggs are another indicator of
infestation. The eggs are tiny and white, and are usually found around the
roots of pubic hair or other body hair.
Call your doctor if you’re showing signs of a
pubic lice infestation but aren’t completely sure that you have one.
Rid of Pubic Lice
Treatment for pubic lice consists of
decontaminating yourself, your clothes, and your bedding.
Topical, over-the-counter lotions and shampoos
can be used to remove pubic lice from your body. These treatments include RID,
Nix, and A-200. Ask your doctor which products are safe to use if you are
pregnant or breast-feeding, or are treating an infant for pubic lice. You may
only need to wash your pubic hair if your lice infestation is mild. Read the
instructions to find out exactly how much product you should use and how long you’ll
need to leave the product on your skin. Prescription medication might also be
necessary if the topical solutions don’t work.
Even after successful treatment, a few
stubborn lice eggs might cling to your hairs. Remove any leftover nits with
tweezers. Home remedies, such as shaving and hot baths, aren’t effective for
treating pubic lice. Lice can easily survive ordinary soap and water.
If several people in your household have
contracted pubic lice, treat everybody at the same time. This helps prevent
You will also need to decontaminate your
home. Vacuum the entire house and clean the bathroom with bleach solution. Wash
all towels, bedding, and clothing in hot water, and machine dry them using the
highest setting. If you can’t wash or dry clean a certain item of clothing,
seal it in an airtight plastic sack for 72 hours.
You might need stronger medicine if the lice
survive these efforts. These products include:
(Ovide), which is a topical lotion that you leave on
the affected areas for eight to 12 hours.
- Ivermectin (Stromectol), which is a two-pill dose that you take orally. You might need a
follow-up dose 10 days later.
which is the strongest and most toxic product
among the commonly prescribed pubic lice medications. You only leave it on for
four minutes before washing it off. Don’t use this product on infants or on
yourself if you’re breast-feeding or pregnant.
For pubic lice in eyelashes, apply petroleum
jelly to the lashes and eyelids three times a day for a few days.
Alternatively, you can pluck the nits and lice with tweezers. Your doctor might
prescribe a special lice medicine suitable for the eye area. Don’t use regular lice shampoos
around the eyes.
Itching may persist for a week or two as your
body works through its allergic reaction to the bites. Call your doctor if you
notice swelling, skin discoloration, or drainage from wounds.
to Prevent Pubic Lice Infestations
To prevent a pubic lice infestation, you
should avoid sharing clothes, bedding, or towels with anyone who has pubic
lice. Sexual contact should also be avoided until treatment is complete and
Once you’ve been diagnosed with pubic lice,
you must inform all current and past sexual partners so that they can be
treated as well.