Information Center > Crabs
STD (Pubic Lice)
STD Information Center
Crabs (Pubic Lice)
is a sexually transmitted disease in which pubic lice
infest the genital area of males
or females, creating an itching sensation. Sometimes
the public lice can be seen crawling in the pubic area.
What are Crabs?
Known as "public lice," crabs
are parasitic insects found in the genital area of
humans. Infection is common and found worldwide.
How did I get pubic lice?
Pubic lice are usually spread through sexual contact.
Rarely, infestation can be spread through contact
with an infested person's bed linens, towels, or
clothes. A common misbelief is that infestation
can be spread by sitting on a toilet seat. This
likely, since lice cannot live long away from a
warm human body. Also, lice do not have feet designed
to walk or hold onto smooth surfaces such as toilet
Infection in a young child or teenager may indicate
sexual activity or sexual abuse.
Where are pubic lice
Pubic lice are generally found in the genital area
on pubic hair; but may occasionally be found on
other coarse body hair, such as hair on the legs,
mustache, beard, eyebrows, and eyelashes. Infestations
of young children are usually on the eyebrows or
eyelashes. Lice found on the head are not pubic
lice; they are head lice.
Animals do not get or spread pubic lice.
What are the
signs and symptoms of pubic lice?
Itching in the genital area. Nits (lice eggs) or
crawling lice may be seen.
What do pubic lice look
There are three stages in the life of a pubic louse:
the nit, the nymph, and the adult.
Nits are pubic lice eggs. They are hard to see
and are found firmly attached to the hair shaft.
They are about the size of the mark at the end of
this arrow . They are oval and usually yellow to white.
Nits take about 1 week to hatch.
The nit hatches into a baby louse called a
nymph. It looks like an adult pubic louse, but is smaller.
Nymphs mature into adults about 7 days after hatching.
To live, the nymph must feed on blood.
The adult pubic louse is about this size and
resembles a miniature crab when viewed through a
strong magnifying glass. Pubic lice have six legs,
two front legs are very large and look like the pincher
claws of a crab; this how they got the nickname "crabs." Pubic
lice are tan to greyish-white in color. Females lay
nits; they are usually larger than males. To live,
adult lice need to feed on blood. If the louse falls
off a person, it dies within 1-2 days.
How is a pubic
lice infestation diagnosed?
By looking closely through pubic hair for nits, nymphs,
or adults. Finding a nymph or adult may be difficult;
there are usually few of them and they can move
quickly away from light. If crawling lice are not
nits confirms that a person is infested and should
be treated. Diagnosis should be made by a health
care provider if you are unsure about infestation
or if treatment is not successful.
How are pubic lice
A 1% permethrin or pyrethrin lice shampoo, also called
pediculicide peh-DICK-you-luh-side, is recommended
to treat pubic lice. These products are available
with out a prescription at your local drug store.
Medication is generally very effective; apply the
medication exactly as directed on the bottle. A
prescription medication, called Lindane (1%) is available
your health care provider. Lindane is not recommended
for pregnant or nursing women or for children less
than 2 years old.
How to treat pubic lice infestations: (Note: see section
below for treatment of eyelashes or eyebrows. The lice
medications described in this section should not be
used near the eyes.)
- Wash the infested area; towel dry.
saturate hair with lice medication. If
using permethrin or pyrethrins, leave medication
on for 10 minutes; if using Lindane, shampoo
be left on for 4 minutes. Thoroughly rinse
off medication with water. Dry off with
- Following treatment, most nits will
still be attached to hair shafts. Nits
may be removed
- Put on clean underwear
and clothing after treatment.
- To kill any
lice and nits that may be left on clothing
or bedding, machine wash
the infested person used during the
2-3 days before treatment. Use the hot water
(130o F) of the
washing machine to wash clothes. Use
the the hot cycle of the dryer for at least
to dry clothes.
- Dry clean clothing that
is not washable.
- Inform any sexual partners
that they are at risk for infestation.
any sexual partners until partners have
been treated and infestation has
- Retreat in 7-10 days
if lice are still found.
To treat nits and lice found on eyebrows
If only a few nits are found, it may be possible to
remove live lice and nits with your fingernails or
a nit comb.
additional treatment is needed for pubic lice
nits found on the eyelashes, applying an ophthalmic-
grade petrolatum ointment (only available by
prescription) to the eyelids twice a day for
10 days is effective. Vaseline* is a kind of
petrolatum, but is likely to irritate the eyes
Information Center | STD
you think you may have a sexually transmitted disease,
you should see a physician immediately to be properly
diagnosed and treated. You should not try to diagnose
or treat symptoms
on your own.
> Perfectmatch.com - The best approach to find the one.
Online Dating Magazine content, including the content on this page,
copyright by Online Dating Magazine and may
republished or reused in any form. You do have
full permission to link to this article.
Do you agree or disagree with this
more to add? Submit a Letter
to the Editor today or post a comment below.