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What is pubic lice?
Pubic lice ('crabs') are tiny insects that live in coarse human body hair, such as pubic hair. The lice use their claws to grab and hang on to pubic hairs while feeding on blood.
Pubic lice are passed on by close skin contact. Having close bodily contact with another person who is infected spreads pubic lice.
Pubic lice can survive for some time away from the body so it is also possible to catch them by sharing clothes or someone else’s bed.
What are the symptoms of pubic lice?
Pubic lice bite and cause itching and red spots in the genital area. This itching is due to the pubic lice biting and causing irritation.
How serious is pubic lice?
Pubic lice is easy to treat and does not lead to any serious health problems.
How do I get tested for pubic lice?
Often you can confirm the presence of pubic lice as they can be seen moving in the pubic hair.
What is the treatment for pubic lice?
Pubic lice can be treated with insecticide creams or over-the-counter shampoos such as Prioderm shampoo. Used as directed, reapplication may or may not be necessary.
Following treatment, egg casings (nits) may remain visible on the hair shaft. To remove these, a fine toothed comb dipped in vinegar can be used.
Shaving of the pubic hair is not necessary.
Other important information about pubic lice
Pubic lice found in the pubic hair differ from lice found in the scalp, although pubic lice can occasionally be found in other areas of the body including eyelashes, chest hair and armpit hair.
To avoid catching pubic lice again, you should make sure that sexual partners are treated as well, and wash articles that may be infected in hot water, such as bedding and clothing currently being worn.