Pubic lice

Skin | Dermatology | Pubic lice (Disease)


Pubic lice (often called crabs because of their crab-like appearance under a microscope) are six-legged creatures that most commonly infest hair in the pubic area, although they also can infest other body hair. In most cases, pubic lice are transmitted sexually from the pubic hair of one person to another. But lice can be contracted in other ways, too — from infested clothing, towels, and bedding.

Causes and Risk factors

If the infestation consists of many adult lice, symptoms may be noticeable immediately. But if the infestation initially involves a few lice that then lay eggs, a person may not experience any symptoms for 2 to 4 weeks until the eggs hatch.

Sometimes, lice bites can also cause the infested area to become inflamed and discolored because of a reaction to the proteins in the saliva of the lice. Constant itching and scratching can cause the area to become raw and lead to a secondary bacterial infection. Scratching also can help the pubic lice to spread.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Typically, pubic lice can be treated at home. But if someone in the house has them, its important to take precautions so that they dont spread. Although its possible to be infested and have no symptoms, people with pubic lice usually experience itchiness. This can worsen at night when the lice become active and bury their heads inside pubic hair follicles to feed on a persons blood.


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