In short, yes. Pubic lice, and lice in general, can live up to two days off the body and can be spread through physical contact. Having lice is much more common than we think, even in adults, however most people are embarrassed to talk about it.
If you find you have lice of any kind, be sure to tell those who might be at risk, like your partner, roommates or family. Be sure to take immediate steps to kill the lice on your body and in your home.
What is Pubic Lice?
Pubic lice, or crabs, are small insects that eat human blood and live mainly in the pubic area, although they are sometimes found on facial hair, chest hair and in the armpits. Lice can grow up to 1/8 inch long.
Lice eggs, or nits, often look like dandruff, but cannot be easily brushed out of the hair. A lice infestation occurs when a large number of lice live on a person. Lice of all kinds are spread by contact; pubic lice are no different, and are mostly spread through sexual contact.
Do Many People Get Pubic Lice From Toilet Seats?
Most often, lice is transmitted by physical contact. Sexual contact, sleeping in infected bedding and contact with clothing or towels are the most common ways of transferring pubic lice. However, there is a slight chance of getting lice from public restrooms on the toilet seat. Lice can live up to two days off the body, so it is possible, if unlikely, to get lice from a public restroom.
How Can I Prevent Contracting Pubic Lice From Restrooms?
To prevent getting lice, be sure to line the toilet seat with a seat cover or toilet paper. Or, if you'd prefer, squat over the seat without touching it.
What Should I Do If I Have Pubic Lice?
A doctor can look at the area and determine if you have pubic lice. Most commonly, an over the counter cream, lotion or shampoo is the easiest way to treat lice of all kinds. The cream is put on the infected area and kills the lice and eggs. Occasionally a second treatment is necessary to be sure the lice are gone. If your pubic lice are resistant to treatment, your doctor can give you a prescription.
To kill pubic lice on your bedding or towels, wash all sheets, blankets and mattress pads, towels and washcloths in very hot water, at least 130 Fahrenheit and dry on high heat for at least twenty minutes. Wash all clothing in the same manner. Any bedding that cannot be washed like a comforter or pillow should be put into airtight bags for at least two weeks. Be sure to vacuum as well, since lice from your clothing may have spread to the floor.
Any other items that may have come in contact with lice, including a comb used to remove lice, should be washed in very hot water or immersed in rubbing alcohol for at least an hour.