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Health Services

Pubic Lice (Crabs)

EphNotes

What is it?

Pubic Lice is an infestation of parasitic forms of lice, also known as Pediculosis. It can occur anywhere on the body. Pediculosis pubis is found primarily in pubic hairs but also may extend to the eyebrows, eyelashes and underarms. These lice feed on human blood and lay eggs (nits) in body hairs and clothing fibers.

How is it spread?

Pubic Lice is spread through sexual intercourse or by contact with clothing, bed sheets, or towels harboring lice.

How do I know if I’m infected?

Lice, eggs (nits), and lesions can be seen on the body and hair shafts on close inspection.

What are the symptoms?

When lice bite, they inject a toxin that causes irritation and a small red spot. Repeated bites can cause inflammation and a rash may appear in severe cases. Bites can cause severe itching.

How is it treated and are there any long-term complications?

Pediculosis can be treated successfully. Your doctor can prescribe a lotion for you to use to kill the lice and nits. If left untreated, you can develop infections from scratching. It can also cause your skin to change color and become scaly and scarred.

How can I protect myself?

Avoid contact with a person infected with lice. If you have been treated for lice, notify your sexual partner/partners so that they may be treated also. Lean all bed sheets, towels and pillows. Products are available for this. Being treated for lice does not make you immune to another infestation.

Information provided by University of Missouri-Rolla Health Services

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