Pubic lice, also known as crabs, are parasites that attach to body hair, often in the pubic area. Lice are the size of a pencil dot and are greyish brown in color, making it difficult to see with the naked eye. Lice will lay their eggs at the base of the hair; these nits (eggs) are white or tan in color.
Symptoms may appear two to six weeks after infestation.
- Severe itching that can be worse at night
- Skin irritation, redness, and inflammation
- Small blue spots can appear where the lice have bitten
- Visible eggs or lice
Infestations are diagnosed by a doctor or nurse practitioner after examining the skin and hearing about the symptoms you are experiencing.
- You can treat pubic lice and scabies at home with medicated lotions, creams or shampoos that are available at the drug store without a prescription.
- Seek medical attention if symptoms persist after two treatments.
- All sexual partners, family and other people who have come into close body contact with you will need to be examined and treated.
- Any clothes, bed linen or towels used in the two to three weeks prior to having symptoms must be dry-cleaned or washed in hot soapy water. If dry cleaning is not possible, place them in a closed plastic bag and store them away for two weeks.
- Carpets, mattresses and furniture should be vacuumed thoroughly.
Pubic lice can be transmitted during sexual activity or other skin-to-skin contact. It may also spread by sharing clothing, towels or bedding with someone who is infested. Condoms do not prevent the spread.
Sexual activity can be resumed when there are no sign or symptoms and sexual partners have been treated.