Pubic Lice FAQs
What are Pubic Lice?
Pubic Lice, or 'Crabs', are minute parasitic insects predominantly found in adult genital areas, and also sometimes found in underarm, chest and leg hair, and even eyebrows and beards. They are common, and found worldwide. Pubic lice are grey-brown in colour and adults are approximately 2mm in length. The nickname 'Crab' derives from the large pincer-like claws that the lice use to attach themselves to hair. After infection, symptoms may not appear for up to several weeks. The sufferer will experience itchy, inflamed skin which may lead to a rash, and may also experience blue spots on surrounding skin. You may also spot lice excrement (black powder) and spots of blood in underwear, 'nits' (pubic lice eggs) attached to the hair, and even visible, mobile lice. Some sufferers may experience no symptoms and spread lice before realising. Crabs cannot be removed by normal washing and brushing, nor by shaving.
Why do we get Pubic Lice?
Pubic lice are most easily and commonly passed on through sexual intercourse or activity, walking from one hair to another (it is a common misconception that they are able to jump or fly). Lice may also spread via shared clothing / linen, though this method is less common as lice and their eggs cannot survive long away from the human body. Lice may lastly be spread by close proximity contact with family and friends. There is no evidence to suggest that pubic lice may be caught from toilet seats.
How do we identify Pubic Lice?
If you suspect yourself of having pubic lice, carry out a careful visual examination for nits (eggs) and lice. It is very difficult to spot lice as they tend to shy away from light, but finding nits may confirm the need for treatment. If you are not sure, or examination is unsuccessful and symptoms continue, you should opt for a professional diagnosis by your GP or nurse.
How do we treat Pubic Lice?
Luckily, pubic lice are easily treated. There are a variety of lotions, creams and shampoos –that do not requirie a prescription- designed to combat infestations, the most popular being: Lyclear, Derbac & Quellada. Following the product's information sheet will ensure that you get the best results and your treatment is as effective as it can be. The whole body below the neck should be treated as lice easily spread to other areas. Approximately 30-60g of cream and around 100ml lotion is enough to treat one body, though treatments should generally be reapplied a week later to eradicate any eggs left. If problems continue after two treatments, you should consult a professional. Itching symptoms may take up to 3 weeks to clear after a successful eradication.