Head lice

Updated 27 June 2016

Itching down there? 8 facts you should know about pubic lice

Pubic lice or 'crabs' won't kill you or even make you sick, but they are an itchy nuisance that can be quite difficult to get rid of.

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Pubic lice also known as crabs are tiny parasitic blood-sucking wingless insects that infest the human genitals. Crabs are more of a nuisance than a medical emergency, but the problem does need to be addressed. Below are some facts about pubic lice.

1. The name “crabs” refers to the crab-like appearance of public lice. The louse has a rounded body, six legs, some of which have claws which help it hang onto coarse pubic hair.

2. The most common symptom of crabs is itching in the pubic area. This itching is caused by an allergic reaction to the bites, and usually starts about five days after a person gets crabs.

3. Much like head lice, crabs cannot jump; they crawl from one host to another.

4. Pubic lice found on children’s eyelashes may be a sign of sexual exposure or abuse.

5. When you have pubic lice, it’s advisable to get tested for other STI’s. A check-up is usually recommended as a precaution. 

6. The “ITCH” usually start at night because pubic lice tend to burrow when their host isn’t moving around too much.

7. Excessive scratching has been found to cause secondary bacterial infections.

8. The only other animal known to be affected by this wingless terror is the gorilla.

pubic lice

Pubic lice

Read more:

Symptoms of pubic lice

Diagnosing pubic lice

Treating pubic lice

Sources:

http://www.ashasexualhealth.org/stdsstis/crabs 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2246949

http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/lice/pubic/gen_info/faqs.html