When Pubic Lice Strike

An adult pubic louse measuring about 1.5mm

If you are thinking of crabs – DON’T SCRATCH MORE.

It has already been a few restless nights and the itching there seems to be nothing but worse. Scratching means helping them move deeper into and around your hairy area.

Pubic lice, or more popularly known as ‘crabs’ or crab lice, become active at night to feed on blood. If you come to think of it, they are no different from vampires in the movies. Once you have them, clearing them off won’t be an easy task. These parasites spread fast from person to person through direct contact, fastest via sexual intercourse, and are thus more common in adults. Spread from adults to children or amongst siblings and close relatives are usually due to sharing of inner wears, towels, bed linens and clothes. Although rare, abuse must always be kept in mind when crabs are found on a child’s eyelashes/eyebrows.

Pubic Lice feed at night – just like Vampires!

Crabs are almost fully dependant on humans. They live for a month on human body, but only a day or two once they fall off them. Their eggs, also called nits, are usually found on the hair shaft, keeping them warm enough to hatch after a week or two. Once hatched, these ‘baby lice’ called nymphs take a week to mature into adults to reproduce further. As you see, it doesn’t take long for the population to grow although they have a short lifetime. Finding them is really difficult, as these creatures move away from light very quickly.

Getting rid of these pests can be rather frustrating. Looking for a needle in a haystack is just the way to describe it. Seldom will you see one crawling around. More often, spotting nits on your pubic hair confirms the diagnosis. Nits are usually attached to the hair shaft and are seen as white dots. Anti-lice lotions and creams containing permethrin or pyrethrins (which are considered insecticides) are commonly used to treat pubic lice. You can get them at any pharmacy without prescription. Be sure to follow the written instructions on the package when using. After washing of the medication, shaving or using a nit comb helps remove any remaining dead lice and nits (eggs). Repeat the same after 10 days.

Stronger medications for crab lice exist, but are not yet approved to be used because of their more severe side effects. Persistent itching is usually relieved by over-the-counter anti-histamine tablets such as diphenhydramine, hydroxyzine or chlorampheniramine, all of which may cause sedation.  Non-sedating antihistamines such as loratadine are also effective.

Clothes and bed-linens used before the treatment should be put away in an air-tight bag for 10 to 14 or more days before machine-washing them. This is done to make sure any remaining living lice or nits are dead.

If itching persists, it’s about time you see a doctor.

Your main checklist once you know you are infested with lice:-

-undergo further investigation for the presence of any other sexually-transmitted diseases once you are infected with pubic lice;

– warn your sex partners (those who have been with you within the previous month) about their exposure to infestations and advice them to get treatment;

– you and your partner should avoid sexual intercourse until complete treatment is done on both and persistent infestations have already been ruled out.


Need more advice?

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