Pubic Lice – Crabs

Pubic lice are group of parasitic insects most commonly referred to as crabs. The crab lice are mainly found in the pubic hair and in some cases crab lice may also be found in armpit hair, eyebrows, eyelashes, or in the beard. Adult lice are usually yellow to gray in color and survived by feeding on human’s blood through tiny blood vessels in the skin.

Transmission

Pubic lice are mainly transmitted through sexual intercourse when the pubic areas of both partners come into contact. Female lice can lay eggs that may be passed onto clothing, towels, or bed sheets and can survive for several days away from human body. Crab lice can survive for 1 to 2 days away from human body and it is possible for crab lice or eggs to be transmitted from sharing towels, underclothing, bed sheets, or sleeping in someone’s bed. Lice infection can also be transmitted to other part of the body including the armpits, eyebrows, or the scalp.

pubic lice, crab lice, lice infection, permethrin cream, lindane shampoo

Symptoms

The symptoms may appear within 2 to 3 weeks if the infections are caused by few pubic lice that lay eggs. The hatched eggs take about 2 to 3 weeks to mature into adult lice that feed on blood to survive and begin to reproduce. The symptoms may appear instantly if the infections are caused by many adult lice that feed on blood to survive and begin to reproduce.

The most common symptom is itching of the pubic area infested with lice. The itching is usually worse at night because the lice are more active with feeding on human’s blood. Other symptoms may also include skin inflammation (blue to gray in color) at the feeding site or bacterial infection may develop on broken skin tissues caused by constant itching and scratching. Some people with lice infection may not experience any symptoms.

Treatment

Crab lice can be treated with 1% permethrin cream that is apply on the infected site and washed off after 10 minutes. Permethrin cream can be applied on infected site such as the genital, armpits, and eyebrow. Lice infection of the scalp hair can be treated with 1% Lindane shampoo and washed off after 4 minutes. The treatment should be repeated after 7 days to ensure lice infections are treated completely because the eggs may take 7 days to hatch and cause re-infection.

People who are successfully treated can get re-infected if they are exposed again from unwashed sheets or clothing that consists of lice. The clothing, towels, or bed sheets should be washed with hot water and dry completely using hot dryer cycle to ensure all the lice and eggs are killed. You and all your sexual partners should be treated completely before engaging in sexual activity to avoid re-infection and to prevent others from being infected.

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