Pubic lice (crabs)

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Pubic lice is commonly known as crabs. They are tiny insects that attach themselves to the hair and skin in the pubic areas. In children, they are found in the eye brows and eye lashes and may be a sign of sexual abuse. Pubic lice  is common in all races, ethnic groups and levels of society. The most common way to get infected with these insects are through sexual intercourse. Treatment is by using over the counter creams to kill the parasite and their eggs.


You usually get pubic lice through sexual intercourse but rarely,  you may get it from contaminated seats, towels and clothes. Your risk of getting this infection increases if you have other sexually transmitted infections.


Signs and symptoms of having pubic lice includes the following :

  • intense itching in the genitals and anus
  • Visible nits (lice eggs) or crawling lice


Your doctor can diagnose you for pubic lice  by doing a visual examination of the pubic area and checking  for the presence of moving lice. He can also use the presence of lice eggs (nits) as a tool for diagnosis, although dead nits can be present even after successful treatment.


Over the counter shampoos and creams such as Nix and Rid may be used. If these however don’t work, your doctor may prescribe  stronger medications such as Malathion (Ovide), Ivermectin (Stromectol) and Lindane. Eye treatments are also available if  pubic lice are found in the eyelashes. This is done by applying petroleum jelly to your eyelid and lashes three times a day for several days. The lice and nits can also be gently removed from eyelashes using tweezers, a nit comb or your fingernails.


Take these precautions to prevent public lice infestation.

Avoid  having sexual contact or sharing bedding or clothing with an infected  person.

All  sexual partners must also be treated if you are being treated for pubic lice.





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