Let’s Get Personal about Lice!

Let’s Get Personal/ Pubic Lice→ Crabs

What is Pubic Lice?

Pubic lice, commonly called crabs, are tiny insects found in your genital area. Crabs are different then head lice and body lice.  Pubic lice are typically smaller and rounder and give their bodies the resemblance of tiny crabs, hence its nickname, crabs.  The genital area is not the only place pubic lice can be found, they can also be seen in coarse hair elsewhere on the body like: eyebrows, eyelashes, beard, mustache, chest, armpits, etc. 

Causes and Risk Factors

Pubic lice infestations called pthiriasis are usually spread through sexual contact. However, it may be possible to catch pubic lice after sharing clothing, bed linens or towels with an infested person.  People who have other sexually transmitted infections are more likely to also have pubic lice. Dogs, cats, and other pets do not play a role in the transmission of human pubic lice.


Pubic lice feed on your blood, and their bites can cause severe itching. Pubic lice infestation sometimes leads to complications. 

Skin Discoloration Pale blue spots may appear where pubic lice have been continually feeding.

Skin infections –  The itchy lice bites can cause intense itching, which can lead to secondary infection. 

Eye irritations – Children who have pubic lice on their eyelashes may develop a type of pink eye (conjunctivitis).

Pubic Lice on the Eye

Treatment and Prevention

To prevent pubic lice infestation, avoid having sexual contact or sharing bedding or clothing with anyone who has an infestation.  Pubic lice infestations can usually be treated with a louse-killing lotion or gel. Treatment includes applying over-the-counter creams and lotions that kill the parasites and their eggs. Both over-the-counter and prescription medications are available for treatment. If you are being treated for pubic lice, all sexual partners must also be treated.

Head, Body and Pubic Lice

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