Pubic lice are also known as “crabs” because they look like small crab like organisms when viewed under a microscope. Pubic lice are spread by close physical contact where pubic hair or other hair touch and through contact with bedding, towels or clothing that is infested with pubic lice. They primarily live in pubic hair but can be present in hair under the arms, chest hair and even eyelashes and eyebrows. Condoms offer no protection against public lice.
Symptoms: Intense itching in areas of the body where there is pubic hair or other hair.
Treatment: Over the counter lotion or shampoo is available to treat pubic lice. It is important to pay close attention to the directions given with these products, as the eggs produced by the pubic lice will often need to be removed using a comb or your fingers. Lice eggs may also be found in your bedding, clothing and towels. Use hot water when cleaning bedding, clothing and towels, and be sure to dry items in a dryer on the hottest setting to kill the eggs.
Prevention: Condoms and oral dams help avoid the spread of genital herpes, but only from the area covered by the condom or oral dam.
To reduce your risk of getting STIs, including HIV, follow these practices:
- Use a condom and/or oral dam properly and consistently each time you are sexually active.
- See your healthcare provider or go to a sexual health clinic to be tested for STIs if you are sexually active or starting a sexual relationship with a new partner.
- You and your partner should be tested for STIs before becoming sexually active and then again in three to six months.
You can’t tell if someone has an STI by looking at them; the only way to know is to be tested.