What Exactly Are Pubic Lice and How Can You Treat Them?

groinThere’s no doubt that pubic lice are unpleasant, to say the least. However, the good news for your wellbeing is that once they are diagnosed, pubic lice are easily treated. The tiny parasitic insects live in pubic hair, underarm hair, hair on the body and, on rare occasions, eyebrows and eyelashes. The 2mm-long, yellowy-grey lice have a crab-like appearance, hence the nickname crabs, and though their brown dot-like eggs are called nits, and fix to coarse body hair, pubic lice don’t live on the hair on your head and are different from head lice.

Both men and women can catch and pass on pubic lice, and transmission is easily achieved through close body contact or sexual contact. Because they depend on human blood for survival, crabs rarely leave the body unless there’s close body contact with another person, as they cannot jump or fly but rather crawl from hair to hair. However, pubic lice can live for up to 24 hours off the body, and so it is possible for them to be spread via shared clothing, bedding or towels.

It can take several weeks after coming into contact with public lice for any symptoms appear, and some people don’t experience any symptoms at all. However, you may notice itching in the affected areas, black powdery droppings from the lice in underwear, brown eggs on pubic or other body hair, irritation and inflammation in the affected area (sometimes caused by scratching) and sky-blue dots (which disappear within a few days) or very tiny specks of blood on the skin.

Sounds lovely, but how do you get rid of them? Without treatment, pubic lice won’t go away so it’s important to get checked if you suspect your wellness has been infected. You can tell you have them in most cases by having a close look, but testing is free on the NHS. Your GP, a genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic, sexual health clinic, or a pharmacist can test for pubic lice, and advise you on a treatment, which involves using a special cream, lotion or shampoo.

Sometimes you have to repeat treatments in after a few days, and it’s recommended that you wash all your bedding, clothing and towels on a hot cycle. Also, any members of your household, as well as any sexual partners, should be treated at the same time, and you should inform your doctor, nurse or pharmacist if you might be pregnant, are pregnant or are breastfeeding, as this will affect the type of treatment you’re given.

Comments are closed.