Head lice

Updated 19 January 2016

Diagnosing pubic lice

Identifying pubic lice yourself can be quite difficult, so to ensure an accurate diagnosis, consider booking an appointment with a GP or at a local sexual health clinic.


Self-diagnosing pubic lice can be particularly difficult because the lice are so small and can move quickly. To get properly diagnosed you can visit a sexual health clinic or a GP.

If you suspect you have pubic lice, a doctor or nurse will examine the affected area to look for lice and nits. They may need to use a magnifying glass to get a closer look.

If your doctor finds both lice and nits, you are suffering from an active lice infestation and will be given treatment. If your doctor can identify nits but cannot find any lice, you may not have an active infestation although many doctors may recommend treatment anyway to prevent the nits from hatching.

Your doctor may also look for other signs of infestation. Small blueish spots caused by lice bites may be present on the affected area. Your doctor may also look for signs of irritation from scratching.

Your doctor might recommend that your sexual partner also receives treatment for pubic lice as the lice are easily spread during close bodily contact. Both you and your partner may be advised to undergo testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Read more:

What are pubic lice?

Symptoms of pubic lice

Treating pubic lice

Sources: Family Planning Association; NHS Choices; Sexual Health Scotland