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Pubic Lice

Pubic Lice

Who the hell gave me these ‘bugs’?!

Pubic Lice


There’s a blood sucking parasite living on me? On my precious genitals?! Of the various sexually transmitted infections one can contract, what is pubic lice? How can we avoid it, why is it important that it’s treated, and what should we be careful of when treating it?

Facts and Myths about Pubic Lice

✔ Pubic Lice

pubic ‘crab’ lice, pthiriasis

Pubic lice, are small, broad-bodied parasitic insects. They live on human hair and suck blood four to five times a day. Eggs are laid on the hair, and these eggs hatch after two to three weeks, worsening the symptoms. Infection with pubic lice is known medically as "pthiriasis", colloquially as “crabs”.

Different to the lice you get in your hair! There are different kinds of lice that infect the skin on your head or your body. They have the same ancestors, but different appearances and characteristics. In the case of head lice, they can transmit bacterial diseases, while the others can’t. Body lice are connected to hygiene issues, while the other two aren’t. And pubic lice are distinguished from the others in that they are closely related to sexual contact.

✔ Pubic Lice Causes

The cause of a pubic lice infection is the public lice itself. Infection is mainly spread by sexual contact and is considered an STI. There is a very, very low chance of infection through towels or bedding, but it is very rare. If you have a relationship with an infected partner, the probability of transmission is over 70%, so the transmission rate is considered very high.

Direct contact is the biggest cause! Pubic lice can’t jump or fly. They are known to move from host to host when the pubic hair become intertwined. Even if using a condom, lice can be transmitted through the pubes.

✔ Pubic Lice Symptoms

Pubic lice cause severe itching in the genital region. As the lice sucks the human blood for sustenance, the saliva and feces of the pubic lice cause an allergic reaction and an itching feeling. Generally, symptoms only appear a week after infection. Itching is a typical symptom, and in addition, scratches, bumps, or bruises may occur. It mainly occurs around the genitals, but it can also spread to other areas such as armpit and body hair.

  • Severe itching
  • Scratches and similar wounds
  • Lumps or bruising
  • Large amounts of yellow or green vaginal discharge

Not just in the pubic hair! In rare cases, pubic lice may occur in chest hair, armpit hair, and even eyebrow hair.

✔ Pubic Lice Treatment

You must go to the hospital to get the necessary prescription to treat it. It can be treated with medicinal creams, lotions, and shampoos. To prevent the spread, bedding, blankets, and clothes should be boiled in hot water and dry cleaned before re-use.

You partner also HAS to see a doctor! Pubic lice often appear along with other STI’s, so it is recommended to get tested for other infections as well. Check the overall sexual health status of yourself and your partner(s) and respond accordingly.


  • Pubic lice are mostly spread by sexual contact.
  • Partners must also be treated in order to effectively combat pubic lice.
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