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Pubic Lice "Crabs STD" Information


Pubic Lice - Genital Crabs
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How to Treat or Cure Pubic Lice?

Yes, Pubic Lice is curable and usually very easy to treat. Lice can be removed with a number of over-the-counter medications listed below including our secret remedy for curing crabs. Consider your options carefully to avoid potentially harmful or irritating chemical treatments.

The following medications and chemicals are used to treat pubic lice. Some have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Malathion Lotion 0.5%,( Ovide Lotion), Ivermectin, lotion containing 1% permethrin, mousse containing pyrethrins, piperonyl butoxide

Lindane Shampoo While effective in killing eggs and lice, this medication can have harmful effects on the brain and nervous system. Use of lindane should be limited to individuals that have used other treatments unsuccessfully. Lindane should not be used by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, people with a seizure disorder, children, elderly, or those who weigh less than 110 pounds. Lindane should not be applied to broken skin, skin with sores from syphilis or herpes, or irritated skin.

How to Treat Pubic Lice at Home

  1. Clean the area well Wash the infested area with soap and water, dry with a towel

  2. Apply medication Use one of the medications listed above. They may be available at your local drug store, and can be ordered online to avoid any possible embarrassment. Strictly follow the directions on the label.

  3. Inspect for remaining lice Any nits, lice, or eggs that are still left after treatment can be removed with your fingers. Wash your hands with warm soap and water. Put on freshly washed underwear and clothes.

  4. Eliminate lice in your environment It is possible that lice which have fallen off of your body can survive in clothing, towels, and sheets. These items must be sterilized by washing in hot water, and using the hot dryer cycle. If this is not an option, place the items in an airtight sealed bag or container for 2 weeks.

  5. Take care of yourself and your partner Notify your doctor that you have recently done a home treatment for pubic lice, and that you may need additional STD testing. Acquiring pubic lice is an indication that you may have come into contact with other STDs, and testing should be done. Make sure to tell your recent sex partners so that they can perform the treatment for pubic lice as well.

In the event that your treatment did not work, you can perform it again after 9 days. If at home treatment is unsuccessful, there are prescription medications that can be used as an alternative.

What are Pubic Lice? What is the Crabs STD?

Pubic lice, also commonly referred to as crab lice or crabs, are a parasite that can survive in human hair and can be removed using various treatments. They are commonly found in the pubic hair around the genitals, but can also be found on other parts of the body, such as eyebrows or armpits. They feed on human blood, and will continue to reproduce on the body if not treated. The parasite is very small ( < 2.0 mm) and grows on the body throughout its life cycle, which can be seen in several forms:

Nit: These are the lice eggs. They can be very difficult to see, but are firmly attached to the pubic hair and can be yellow, white, or off-white in color. The eggs can take from 6-10 days to hatch.

Nymph: The nymph is the parasite that first hatches out of the egg. They are very small, immature forms of adult pubic lice. After 2-3 weeks of feeding on blood, they grow into adult lice and are capable of reproducing.

Adult Lice: The adults resemble tiny crabs, they are white in color, and have 6 legs with 2 pinchers in the front, which is how they got the nickname "crabs". They feed on blood and cause itchiness and irritation around the genitals.

Coming into contact with pubic lice indicates that you may have come into contact with other STDs as well. If you have pubic lice, discuss necessary STD testing with your doctor.

What are the Symptoms of Pubic Lice?

Pubic lice do not usually go unnoticed. The lice and eggs are small and usually visible. Symptoms of public lice include:

  • small amounts of bleeding on the skin
  • itchiness around the genitals
  • visible eggs or crawling lice

How is the Crabs STD Transmitted or Spread?

Pubic lice are easily spread from person to person through sexual contact. Lice are usually found in course hair. They are most often found in pubic hair, but have been known to survive in eyebrows, beards, armpit hair, etc. Finding pubic lice on the eyebrows of children is an indication of sexual abuse or sexual exposure, but lice found on the head is attributed to head lice, not pubic lice.

If pubic lice fall off of the body, they can take 1-2 days to die. They survive well in warm environments, and their feet are designed to attach firmly to hair. For this reason, it is possible to acquire pubic lice from bed sheets, towels, or clothing that has been used by an infested person. However, pubic lice can not be contracted from a toilet seat, because a smooth, cold toilet seat is not a suitable environment for pubic lice to survive.

How to Prevent Pubic Lice

Abstinence is the best way to prevent the transmission of any sexually transmitted disease. If you are sexually active, remember that condoms are not an effective measure to prevent pubic lice or any other std. Pubic lice is transmitted via the skin, so only minimal skin to skin contact is needed to contract the lice. People who regularly use drugs and alcohol are at a higher risk for contracting sexually transmitted diseases, including pubic lice, because they are more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior. Please read more about STD transmission and prevention here.

Additional Resources

Division of STD Prevention (DSTDP)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Order Publication Online at www.cdc.gov/std/pubs

CDC-INFO Contact Center
1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636)
Email: cdcinfo@cdc.gov

CDC National Prevention Information Network (NPIN)
P.O. Box 6003
Rockville, MD 20849-6003
1-888-282-7681 Fax
1-800-243-7012 TTY
E-mail: info@cdcnpin.org

American Social Health Association (ASHA)
P.O. Box 13827
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709-3827

While we are able to assist in identifying common symptoms and effects of STDs we are not a replacement for the advice of a medical professional. If you believe you may be infected please see a doctor immediately. If you are experiencing a Medical Emergency Call 911
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