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Pubic lice – causes, side effects and treatments at

Wednesday, June 13, 2018 by

Pubic lice, or more commonly known as “crabs”, are parasitic insects normally found in the genital area of humans. In some cases, they are also found in other body parts with coarse hair like the chest area, armpit, mustache, beard, eyebrows, eyelashes, and legs.

These parasites are usually transmitted through sexual intercourse if one of the involved parties is a carrier. They can also be spread through contact with personal belongings of someone who is infested such as bed linens, towels, or clothes.

Contrary to some assumptions, crabs are different from head lice which live in human scalps. Although pubic lice do not cause any serious harm, they can cause severe itching.

Known risk factors and symptoms of pubic lice

The effect of pubic lice does not immediately surface. It normally takes three to five days until itching begins. The following are symptoms that a person may have pubic lice.

  • Itching – Due to the saliva and feces excreted by lice, itching occurs. For some, the itching is worse during nighttime.
  • Bumps – There are usually red spots and skin lesions on the genital area.
  • Blue spots – In some cases, blue spots are found on the thighs or lower abdomen.
  • Droppings – Lice droppings may appear as dark brown or black powder.

There are some who also feel a burning sensation when infested. Checking for crawling lice or looking for tiny white eggs in the pubic hair are the easiest ways to confirm an infestation.

Body systems affected by pubic lice

A simple case of pubic lice can cause minor complications such as:

  • Infected pubic blisters
  • Matted pubic hair
  • Foul-smelling genital area

It can also lead to a skin infection due to excessive scratching. Infections such as impetigo (a contagious skin infection) or furunculosis (boils on the skin) may occur. In cases where lice reach the eyebrows or eyelashes, the risk of eye infections increases. It can lead to conjunctivitis, and eye inflammation.

Food items or nutrients that may prevent or relieve pubic lice

Since pubic lice are transmitted through external factors, there are no specific food or nutrients that may prevent or relieve the symptoms.

Treatment and management options for pubic lice

For people who have pubic lice, health care professionals would normally prescribe topical creams with malathion or permethrin content. They should be used strictly according to directions for more effective results.

Application of any topical cream should be repeated one week after the initial treatment to ensure that all lice are eliminated. Any close contact should also be brought to the doctor for a check-up and necessary treatment.

It is also very important to thoroughly clean beddings, linens, towels, and clothes owned by a person who’s infested.

Where to learn more


Pubic lice are parasites primarily found in the pubic or genital area and are usually transmitted through direct skin contact. They can spread through other parts of the body with coarse hair except for the head.

Itchiness and a burning sensation in the genital area are the most common symptoms of pubic lice. Some say the itch becomes worse at night, and bumps and blue spots may appear on the skin and surrounding body parts.

Aside from the genitals, crabs may cause skin and eye irritations which may require more complicated treatments.

People who are infested must seek medical assistance to receive the right prescription of topical creams or necessary treatment. Correct use of creams should be observed and preventive measures should be done to ensure that no more traces of pubic lice are left.

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