What Are the Basics of Pubic Lice?

What do pubic lice look like?

Pubic lice, also called crabs, are tiny insects (measuring 1/16 inch (1.6 millimeters) or less), feed on your blood, usually found in your genital area.

Sexual intercourse is the most common way to spread pubic lice. While sharing clothing, bed linens or towels with an infested person may be the possible way to spread pubic lice.

Pubic lice bites can cause severe itching. You can use over-the-counter creams or lotions to kill the parasites and their eggs.


What are the symptoms of pubic lice?

Common signs and symptoms of pubic lice include:

  • Intense itching in your genital region.
  • Lice and lice eggs in your genital region.

Pubic lice may also spread to other areas with coarse body hair, including the:

  • Legs
  • Chest
  • Armpits
  • Beard or mustache
  • Eyelashes or eyebrows, more commonly in children


What are the causes of pubic lice?

The main cause of pubic lice is sexual intercourse. Contaminated sheets, blankets, towels or clothes are also possible causes.

So keeping a distance from people infected by pubic lice is a right way to avoid lice infestations.


How to diagnose pubic lice?

You can confirm a pubic lice infestation by examing your pubic area. If you find moving lice or live lice eggs, that indicate an infestation.


What are the treatment options for pubic lice?

The first treatment option of pubic lice is over-the-counter lotions or shampoos, such as Nix and Rid. If these OTC products fail to work, your doctor may prescribe stronger treatments, such as:

  • Malathion (Ovide). You apply this prescription lotion to the affected area and wash it off after eight to 12 hours.
  • Ivermectin (Stromectol). This medication is taken as a single dose of two pills, with an option to take another dose in 10 days if the treatment isn’t initially successful.
  • Lindane. Because of its toxicity, lindane is usually prescribed only when other treatments fail.


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