Pubic Lice (Crabs)

Crabs (Pubic Louse)
A single louse (crab)

Pubic lice are commonly called crabs. They are parasites that live on the body hair, such as eyelashes, eyebrows and public hair, and suck blood for nourishment. When feeding, they inject saliva under the skin and this saliva is highly irritating and causes the itch. They lay eggs which they attach to the pubic hairs by an adhesive and are different to the lice that affect head hair.

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Transmission

  • Sexual intercourse
  • Other types of physical intimacy (spooning, body to body massage)
  • Sharing towels, bed linen, and clothing

Signs and Symptoms

  • Itching
  • Tiny, flat, brown bugs on the skin or pubic hair
  • Eggs are white and attached to the base of pubic hairs
  • Usually found in pubic region, but can also live under the armpits, beards and moustaches, in hair on the chest and even on eyebrows and lashes

Treatment

  • Creams containing permethrin, e.g. Quellada and Lyclear. Read product instructions carefully before using.
  • Shave or wax all pubic hair. However, shaving or waxing does not always treat pubic lice, as they only need a short length of hair to lay eggs on.
  • Wash all clothes, towels and bedding in hot water when taking the treatment to prevent re-infestation.
  • Treating sexual partners if contact has occurred.