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Pubic Lice

What is it?

Commonly called crabs, pubic lice are tiny insects that attach themselves to the hair and skin in the pubic region.

What are the symptoms?

It takes about five days for symptoms to appear. Intense itching in the genital area is the most common complaint.

How is it spread?

Pubic lice can be spread through physical contact, including sex. It’s also possible to get crabs from infected bedding, furniture, and toilet seats, but this is rare.

How is it diagnosed?

You’ll likely notice pubic lice without the help of a doctor. The tiny grey insects can be seen with a naked eye or a magnifying glass. Their eggs, which are attached near the roots of the pubic hair, are white. If you’re unsure whether you have crabs, your doctor can confirm the diagnosis with a visual inspection.

How is it treated?

The same over-the-counter medications used to treat head lice can be effective for treating crabs. Look for RID and Nix at the drugstore. If DIY treatments don’t work, stronger prescription medications are available from your doctor. Hot baths, shaving, and other home remedies are not effective for treating pubic lice.

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