Pubic Lice (Crabs)

Pubic Lice (Crabs) are small parasites that grip onto the hair in the genital area.

The most common symptom of pubic lice is itching in the pubic hair. Close inspection should reveal tiny lice clinging to the hair. There may also be nits (eggs) attached to the hair shaft. Crabs can also be found in beards, armpits, on chest hair and on the eyelashes. They usually show up from three days to several weeks after contact and are passed on by close body contact with someone who has crabs.

As crabs and their eggs can survive for some time away from the body, it is also possible to catch them by sharing towels, clothes or someone else’s bed.

An external physical examination will show the presence of crabs.

Crabs are easily cured by using appropriate genital lice shampoos and creams available over the counter at pharmacies. Shaving the pubic area will not get rid of crabs.

All bed-linen, clothes, towels and underwear should be washed in a hot soapy wash. Sexual partners and anyone in close physical contact should also be treated to avoid re-infection. It is also advisable to repeat the treatment after several days.