What is Pubic Lice, or “Crabs?”

Public lice, often referred to as “crabs,” are small, six-legged creatures that infest hair in the pubic region of the body. These creatures can also infest other parts of the body but are most commonly transferred from one person to another during sexual contact. Pubic lice can be transmitted other ways as well, including through infested clothing, bedding and towels.

What are the Symptoms of Pubic Lice?

Symptoms of pubic lice can include mild to severe itching. This increases during times when the pubic lice are active, such as at night. This is when the pubic lice burry their heads inside of pubic hair follicles to feed on a host’s blood. Often, lice bites can cause an infected area to become inflamed or discolored. This is a reaction to the proteins inside of lice saliva. Constant scratching in response to these symptoms can cause the area to become raw and lead to additional bacterial infection. Scratching can also cause the pubic lice to spread to other areas of the body.

If you are diagnosed with pubic lice, there are treatments to rid your body of the infestation. There are prescription medications as well as over-the-counter treatments that can kill the lice and their eggs. Sometimes, treatment may need to be repeated after 7 to 10 days. You should speak with your doctor about the best form of treatment.

What is the Risk of Other Infection with Pubic Lice?

Often, infestation can occur along with another infection. Chlamydia and gonorrhea are very common STDs. The most common symptoms of these infections include genital discharge and a burning or discomfort with urination. If you are experiencing these symptoms, you may have an STD.

If you are concerned that you have been exposed to pubic lice, you should seek medical care. Since other infections can often be present with pubic lice, it is best to check for STDs as well. The best way to know the current status of your sexual health, is to have STD testing performed.

1 CDC – Pubic “Crabs” Lice
2 Pubic Lice Facts
3 Pubic Lice Infestation