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Pubic Lice Symptoms

Updated on September 30, 2009

Pubic lice (more commonly known as crabs) used to be a far more common conversation starter than it is now. When I was a kid growing up in the 80s and 90s you'd hear jokes about catching crabs and other colorful chatter on TV and in films, but that's not really the case anymore. And if you think about it, there's a good reason for it -- most women get rid of their pubic hair now, and many men are doing the same thing. Therefore, it's only logical that a parasite would be less frequently observed if their natural habitat were spring cleaned away one a daily, weekly or monthly basis. However, pubic hair isn't the only area in which pubic lice (Pthirus pubis) can thrive, so even if you've gone full Brazilian you should still be familiar with the signs and symptoms of crab lice, just in case you need pubic lice treatment. Typically, they are acquired via direct physical contact with an infested person, but can be less commonly acquired via the sharing of infested towels or bedding. Children can have public lice but it's most common in adults for obvious reasons.

Crabs Can Live Elsewhere!

It's important to note that pubic lice aren't restricted to your private parts. They like warm, moist environments -- which makes your armpit a lovely vacation spot. If you've got itchy armpits, check for the same signs and symptoms as you see listed in the right column. Additionally, pubic crabs can also live in the eyelashes, eyebrows and on facial hair. These things are less common, but can happen.

Itching in the pubic area

Crabs feed on your blood and to do that they've got to bite. They also wander around a bit. Both of these things lead to itchiness. If you've suddenly started itching or feeling as though something is crawling around on you, you'll want to look in your knickers and rule out crabs. Note that the itching often intensifies at nighttime when a person is in bed.

Visual observation of lice

If you can actually see the lice in their adult or nymph stage, you know you've got an infestation. Since the pubic area is less densely covered with hair than the head, these are much easier to spot than head lice. Nevertheless, just because you don't see them doesn't mean they aren't lurking somewhere -- they can be brown, white or black in color and don't always stand out well.

Visual observation of nits

Nits are eggs. If you see eggs attached to your pubic hair follicles, you've got a crab lice infestation. The eggs can range from clear colored to white or yellow or brown and they may look a bit translucent. The eggs can be anywhere in the groin area and possibly on the thigh as well.

Visual observation of bite marks

Sometimes adult lice will leave a little love mark on your skin after biting. These are tiny spots which can be black or blue in color. They aren't always present, but if they are you know you've got something going on.


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