In our society, pretty much anything sexually transmitted is incredibly embarrassing, particularly when that ‘thing’ is hundreds of crab lice making a nice warm home for themselves in your junk.
Yep, we’re talking about crabs, as in pubic lice. Here’s everything you need to know about them!
What Are Pubic Lice?
Pubic lice, also known as crab lice or simply as ‘crabs’, are a type of lice known to infest pubic hair. In more extreme cases, they can also be found in the hair of the armpit, eyebrows, eyelashes, beard and torso.
Pubic lice are small, flat, light-brown parasites that cling to the hairs in your pubic area (and elsewhere), sucking your blood for food. When they suck the blood, they can cause small red sores and itchiness. Overall, itching is the main symptom of pubic lice, and that itching is almost always worse at night. In diagnosing pubic lice, a health professional will also look for lice and nits (the lice eggs) on the hairs in the affected areas. For some, there are no symptoms of pubic lice leaving people unaware they have been infested.
How Do You Get Them?
Pubic lice are usually transmitted through direct skin-to-skin contact, such as what happens during sexual activity. However, that’s not the only way you can get them. The lice can also be spread through contact with towels, underwear or bedding that have been shared with an infected person.
While they are incredibly irritating, there are no long-term effects from contracting pubic lice, and they don’t cause serious harm. Your doctor will likely advise that you are tested for other sexually transmitted infections if you present with pubic lice, as a precaution.
How Are They Treated?
Pubic lice are quite easily treated. In most cases, topical creams or lotions that have permethrin in them are applied. Usually, even if your entire body is not infested, the cream will be applied to the whole body from the neck to the toes, including the perineum (skin between anus and vagina) and the anal area. You need to make sure your skin is clean and dry when you apply the cream, and it should be left on overnight before being washed off in the morning.
At the same time as you are treating your body for the lice, you should also wash all of your clothing, towels and bedding. The lice can live on these items, but a simple hot machine wash and dry will be enough to kill them.
The same treatment, including the washing, should be repeated 1-2 weeks later because permethrin creams and lotions do not work on the lice eggs. Eggs hatch in 6-10 days, so you should time your next treatment accordingly. Of course, during the treatment period, you should avoid personal contact, and sexual contact. You cannot protect against pubic lice with condoms, so it’s best to avoid sex altogether until the lice have cleared up. Symptoms, such as itching and red spots from bites, may take a few days to settle, but if you’re still experiencing them one week after your first treatment, you should talk to your doctor.
Remember, your doctor or health care professional will be able to provide you with more detailed advice on treating pubic lice, and you shouldn’t self-diagnose or try to treat them without first seeing a doctor. If you have pubic lice in your eyelashes, you cannot treat them with permethrin creams or lotions, so an alternative treatment like petroleum jelly, will need to be used. Obviously, if you have a diagnosis of pubic lice, you’ll need to get in touch with all of your sexual partners from the last month and inform them, so they can also be treated.
If you become concerned about any symptoms, please seek immediate medical attention we have some hotlines and suggested websites for further information and advice https://www.stayathomemum.com.au/my-kids/babies/important-hotlines-websites/
SAHM takes no responsibility for any illness, injury or death caused by misuse of this information. All information provided is correct at time of publication.