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Pubic Lice (Crabs)

What is it?

Pubic lice are tiny insects that live as parasites on coarse body hair. They are a yellow-grey colour and are about 2mm long.

How did I get it?

They are caught by close body contact with someone who is infected. They do not jump or fly but crawl from hair to hair. They cannot travel into hair on to the head. Occasionally, they can be transferred by sharing towels, sheets, etc.

What are the symptoms?

Itching in the pubic hair, underarm hair, on hairy legs, abdomens and chest. Occasionally, this can occur in eyebrows, eyelashes and beards. Black powder in underwear (caused by droppings from the lice).Brown eggs on the hair.Sometimes you can see the lice on the skin.

What will they do to me?

They won’t do you any harm but will cause irritation and can be passed from one person to another.

Where can I go?

GUM/Sexual Health Clinic, or a Doctor.

Can it be treated?

Yes, you will be given a special lotion or shampoo to cover hairy areas of the skin from the neck down. The lotion needs to stay on overnight. Bed linen and clothes should also be washed after the treatment to avoid getting infected again.

The itching may continue for a few weeks after treatment. Your partners will also need to be treated and you should avoid close body contact with anyone whilst you are being treated.


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