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Pubic Lice Infestation: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Risk Factors

Pubic Lice

Pubic lice (also known as crab louse) is an infestation of parasitic insects that attach their eggs to hair in the pubic area.

These lice are so tiny that you aren’t able to see them without the help of a magnifying lens, but they leave tell-tale symptoms such as itching and redness at the site of their bites.


What are pubic lice?

Pubic lice are tiny insects that live in the pubic region of your body. They feed on blood and can be passed from one person to another through sexual contact.

A pubic louse infestation is often called crabs because they look like small crabs or insects crawling around in the pubic region. If left untreated, it can cause symptoms such as redness, itching, and skin inflammation.


What causes pubic lice?

Pubic lice are caused by close contact with someone who is infested and can also be transmitted by sharing clothing or bedding.

Other risk factors for infection include sexual contact with an infected person or living in a household where someone has an infestation.

The most common symptom of pubic lice is itching in the genital area, but it’s important to remember that other conditions like jock itch, crabs, or pinworms could cause similar symptoms.

In order to determine if you have pubic lice, your healthcare provider will examine your genitals for sores or tiny nits (eggs).


What are the symptoms of pubic lice?

Itching is the most common symptom of pubic louse infestations; however, this can vary depending on the degree of infestation and individual sensitivity to the pubic lice bites.

The bites themselves are not visible to the naked eye. They may be difficult to notice because they appear as tiny black specks on pubic hair.

Some people do not experience any symptoms at all, making it important for them to ask for medical attention if they suspect an infestation. Pubic lice can also cause rashes, sores, and a generalized feeling of discomfort.


 What is the treatment for pubic lice?

Attempts to fight pubic lice with ordinary home remedies like shaving or bathing have no significant results. Lice easily outlive ordinary soap and water.

You can eliminate pubic lice by applying topical lotions and shampoos containing permethrin. For pregnant women and nursing mothers or for treating an infant for pubic lice, consult your doctor about the safety of using RID, Nix, and A-200.

Another option is to use a natural treatment such as tea tree oil. If you go with a non-pesticide product, avoid getting it on your eyes or nose; if you get some in these areas, flush them with water immediately.

After treatment for lice, you might have some eggs remaining in your hair, so make sure to carefully remove them with a pair of tweezers.

It is also necessary to decontaminate your home. Vacuum the entire house and clean the bathroom using a bleach solution.

You should use hot water to wash and dry all clothing, bedding, and towels, and make sure that all items are airtight. If you are unable to wash or dry clean an item of clothing, place it in an airtight plastic bag for 72 hours before washing it.

Here are some medications your doctor might prescribe:

  • Applying Malathion (Ovide) to the affected areas for eight to twelve hours.
  • Ivermectin – an oral medicine for roundworms – might be recommended in two doses for a span of ten days. This is the strongest and most toxic medication generally prescribed for pubic lice. You only need to leave it on for four minutes and wash it off afterwards.

It is important to remember that all methods of pubic lice treatment are temporary; the bugs can return if the infestation continues and proper hygiene is not maintained.


What are the risk factors for pubic lice?

Close contact with an infected person is one of the most common risk factors for pubic louse infestation. It is also possible to get pubic lice from sharing clothes, bed linens, or towels used by an infected person.

However, since pubic lice can only survive a few hours off the human body, it is not possible to get the parasites merely from sharing furniture or toilet seats.

Pubic lice are also easily transmitted through sexual contact, so be mindful of this when engaging in sexual activity.

You should also check if you have any other symptoms, as they may be caused by another type of infection, such as a sexually transmitted disease (STD).


When should I see my healthcare provider?

You should see your doctor if you have symptoms of a pubic louse infestation and are uncertain about the cause.

Your doctor can conduct a physical exam and diagnose your condition by looking at the part of your body that is infected. They may prescribe medication or recommend another form of treatment depending on the severity of the infestation.



If you are experiencing any symptoms of pubic lice infestation, visit the CK Birla Hospital or book an appointment with Dr Sumit Gupta for a professional diagnosis and treatment.

It is important to speak with a medical professional about any concerns you may have. Our doctors will determine if/how you have been infected by identifying the type of louse and recommend the best course of action for treatment.



How do you get rid of pubic lice fast?

The most effective way to get rid of a pubic lice infestation is to use topical over-the-counter treatment. Other options include hot baths. Also, be sure to wash all your clothes and bedding in hot water with detergent.

Can you see pubic lice?  

Pubic lice are too small to be seen without a magnifying glass. You will know if they’re present because you will experience itching, irritation and redness.

Does shaving help get rid of pubic lice?  

No, it doesn’t. In fact, shaving may irritate the skin even more and make your symptoms worse.

Is pubic lice curable?  

Yes. Most cases of pubic lice can be cured with topical treatment from over-the-counter medication. However, recurrence is possible if proper hygiene techniques aren’t followed (including taking hot showers).

What happens if pubic lice are left untreated?  

If pubic lice aren’t treated quickly, it can lead to intense itching, skin inflammation and hair loss. Pregnant women should seek medical attention as soon as possible because this type of infestation could lead to complications during pregnancy.

Other risks include bacterial infections and the transmission of HIV/AIDS or hepatitis B virus through sexual activity.

What do pubic lice bites look like?  

The typical signs of pubic lice bites are oval-shaped reddish spots. These spots often appear near the groin area and at creases on thighs, buttocks or around bra lines.

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