What are pubic lice?

Pubic Lice (Crabs)

Pubic lice (often referred to as crabs) are lice that live in body hair, usually the pubic hair. Lice are small wingless insects that feed by sucking blood, leaving tiny bite marks that itch.

Are they contagious?
They are contagious, and are spread either by direct sexual contact or by sharing infected towels, bed linen, or clothes.

What are the symptoms?
Intense itching may occur because of the bites. You may also notice:
* Small, black dots (lice droppings) in clothes, especially underwear.

* Groups of tiny, pale eggs (nits) cemented around the base of individual body hairs.

* Small, white dots (empty cases after the nits have hatched) in the hair away from the skin.

What can I do about them ?
* Run a fine-toothed comb through wet body hair three times a day. This damages the lice and prevents them from laying eggs.

* If lice or eggs are found, a medicated lotion will kill them – ask your doctor, health visitor, pharmacist, or nurse for advice. You can attend a genito-urinary medicine (GUM) clinic instead if you prefer.

* Other members of the family should be treated for lice if one family member is infected – the lice can spread via shared towels etc.

* All bed linen and underwear should be washed on a hot cycle to prevent re-infection.

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