Crabs - Pubic Lice

Pubic lice is most commonly a sexually transmitted infection. It can also be spread by close contact without full sexual intercourse.

The insect (Phthirus pubis) has claws and resembles a crab. It uses the claws to grip onto the pubic hair. The lice can also be found on other any body hair eg the armpits, chest, beard, thighs and even the eyelashes.

The louse burrows into the skin causing itching and redness. You can see the pinhead size lice moving in the hair.

Treatment is by lotions used to treat head lice or scabies. You can buy preparations over the counter such as Malathion ask the pharmacist. If you feel embarrassed just ask for head lice treatment. Make sure you apply the lotion to all of your body hair except for your eyelids and scalp. Repeat the treatment in one week.

If you notice lice in the eyelashes, then remove them with tweezers, alternatively apply Vaseline to the eyelids twice daily for 3 weeks.

You should also wash your clothes, bedding and towels in temperatures over 60 deg C.

All sexual partners and anyone who may have had close skin contact with you should also be treated, whether or not they have symptoms. You should also consider that you may be at risk from other sexually transmitted infections and see your local GUC for a sexual health check up. Condoms do not protect you against pubic lice.

Further information

This article published on
25 November 2005

Next review date 11/1/2013


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