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  • Writer's pictureShruti GOCHHWAL

Pube Lice (Crabs): Let’s Finally Talk about it

Pubic lice are very tiny insects that infest your genital area and affect millions of people every year. They are parasites that primarily feed on human blood.

In some cases, they also live in the hair of your eyelashes, armpits, eyebrows, chest hair, beard, and mustaches.

Typically, there are three types of lice that infest humans: head, body, and pubic which is comparatively smaller than the first two. Although they cause no harm to your health, they cause very prominent and uncomfortable symptoms.

Pubic lice are also known as “Crabs” as they appear to be tiny versions of normal water crabs that one would spot at the beach.

They are tiny insects that look like tiny versions of the crabs you see at the beach. They live on the skin and coarse hairs that are around your genitals, and they feed on your blood. Pubic lice spread really easily during sexual contact.

Pube lice

Crabs on eyelashes, Credit: Wikimedia Commons

How Does One Get It? Causes of Pubic Lice

People commonly mistake or associate pubic lice with poor hygiene or cleanliness but pubic lice spread through physical contact.

It is important to understand that it is usually more difficult or almost impossible to jump from one person to another or fall unless they’re dead. Therefore, getting pubic lice handshakes or hugs with an infected person is highly unlikely.

Thus, the most common type of physical contact being sexual intercourse when the genital hair touches or in some cases, sharing personal items like blankets, towels, sheets, linen, etc.

Once they enter your pubic hair, they lay their eggs/nits on the hair shaft which takes 7-9 days to hatch, start feeding on your blood, and eventually lay more eggs.

Symptoms and Diagnosis: How to Check for Pubic Lice

Symptoms usually appear 3-5 days after the infection. They include:

  1. Intense itching around the genital

  2. Irritability

  3. Low energy

  4. Irritability

  5. Low-grade fever

  6. Bluish spots due to bites

  7. Conjunctivitis when pubic lice are present on eyebrows or eyelashes

Lice and nits

Lice and nits, Credit: Wikimedia commons

You can usually diagnose yourself by thoroughly examining your pubic area. You can use a magnifying glass to look for pubic lice if you suspect an infestation but can’t see well enough to be sure.

Lice are usually pale gray, but they can darken in color after drinking your blood. You’re probably infested with lice if you see small, crab-shaped insects moving in your pubic hair.

Lice eggs are another indicator of an infestation. The eggs are tiny and white and are usually found around the roots of pubic hair or other body hair.

Call your doctor if you’re showing signs of a pubic lice infestation.


  1. The lice itself can be easily spotted by examining the pubic area closely or with the help of a magnifying glass.

  2. The lice are typically whitish in color but turn dark grey after feeding on blood.

  3. The nuts/eggs of the lice are really tiny and hard to detect. They are oval-shaped, white in color, and occur in clumps that are stuck close to the roots or base of your hair.

Treatment: How to Get Rid of Pube Lice

Treatment includes:

●    Over the counter medications shampoos, gels, foams, and conditioners as lice can still survive with ordinary soaps. Note: Pay close attention to the maximum duration that the product can remain on your hair.

●    Cleaning and decontaminating every item like clothes, towels, bedding, etc.


Decontamination, Credit: Pikist

●    Discard tweezers, razors, or fine-tooth comb that may still have nits on them.

●    Sometimes, in rare cases, prescription medications are used when topical medications fail to work effectively.

●    Another way to kill the nits or eggs is to cover contaminated products in airtight plastic for 72 hours to suffocate the lice until it eventually dies.

boy, girl

Creating awareness, Credit: Pxfuel

Prevention of Pube Lice

The most effective way to prevent infestation is to avoid having sexual contact or sharing personal items with an infected person, even during their treatment period until he/she has completely been cured.

Thus, it is also important for the infected person to communicate, create awareness and inform their partners and previous partners- A lot of people wrongly assume using contraceptives like condoms will protect the other person from crabs.

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