Can Pubic Lice Cause Any Serious Health Issues

  • Pubic lice are tiny wingless insects that infest the pubic hair of humans. They survive by sucking blood from their hosts. This can cause extreme itching and discomfort.
  • Sometimes if a person scratches themselves until the skin is broken, a secondary infection can result. These can be dangerous, so it is important to seek treatment for crabs/pubic lice as soon as possible.

Other STDs

Although crabs themselves do not directly cause any serious health problems, they can signify that a person has had sex and is therefore at risk for other sexually transmitted infections.

  • Up to 30% of people infested with pubic lice have another sexually transmitted infection, such as Chlamydia, gonorrhea, or syphilis. These diseases are very dangerous and can cause infertility or even death.


Fortunately, pubic lice are not that difficult to treat. Pubic lice can easily be treated at home. However, if you have pubic lice, you should see your health practitioner to be checked for other STDs.

Pesticide shampoos

These are common, but not the best method of treatment for the following reasons:

  • Side effects: These pesticides have been shown to have the following side effects if used improperly: burning, rash, seizures, leukemia, and even death.
  • Resistance: Since 1985 it has been apparent that lice are becoming resistant to these pesticides.

Protecting yourself

It's easier to prevent a pubic lice infestation than cure one. The following tips will help keep you safe from pubic lice and other sexually transmitted infections.

  • Don't engage in promiscuous sexual behavior. Know your sexual partner's histories. Ask to see a clean STD report if necessary.
  • Remain monogamous. Having only one long-term partner greatly decreases your risk for STDs.
  • Use protection. Always use a condom when engaging in oral, vaginal, or anal sex. Put the condom on before any contact occurs. Although condoms do not cover the pubic hair and are therefore not considered effective at preventing pubic lice infestation, they are effective at preventing many other STDs.
  • Do not share a bed or clothing with people who might be infested with pubic lice or any other parasites.
  • If you are away from home, such as at hotel, motel, or youth hostel, check the bed linens and towels carefully for any signs of parasites. Look for the insects themselves, blood specks, or dark brown or black specks (fecal matter).

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