Pubic Lice

What are pubic lice?
These are tiny eight legged animals scientifically named Phthirus pubis.  They nest in pubic hair, beards and mustaches, chest hair, and even eyelashes, and they live on blood.  They are not dangerous and don't seem to transmit any diseases. They are often known as crabs because of crab-like claws with which they hold onto hair. 

How are they spread?
They are usually spread by sexual contact, although they can be
transmitted by close body contact, clothes, bedding, and furniture.
Because eggs hatch in eight days, this infection spreads easily.

What are the symptoms?

  • Itching, redness
  • Visible lice
  • Nits (eggs) – pale, sticking on hairs

How are they treated?

  • 1% permethrin creme rinse (over the counter)
  • pyrethrum with piperonyl (over the counter)
  • Wash clothes and bedding in water that is at least 140° F for 20 minutes, and tumble dry on high heat.
  • Sex partners should also be treated.
  • See health provider if no relief from symptoms

Picture: Pubic lice PI

Adapted from the University of South Carolina Student Health Services