Crabs: A Parasitic Infection

A Mobile Sexually Transmitted Disease

The sexually transmitted disease known as crabs (or pubic lice), is an infection that consists of small parasitic organisms that live in hairy regions of the human body and feed upon blood. To better learn how to avoid such an organism, it is best to understand the appearance, characteristics and behaviors of the parasite, and what steps to take to avoid coming into contact with them.

A Crab like Appearance

Finding pubic lice is one of the most obvious ways of discovering there is an infestation. Pubic lice are small six legged creatures with the front two legs build like and resembling the pincers of a crab, hence the name.

Crabs come in three stages: Nits, Nymphs and the Adult stage, which can measure up to 1.2 millimeters in diameter. Crabs are initially found at the base of the pubic hairs, made up of several egg sacs. A full grown pubic louse is colored tan to light gray.

Characteristics of Crabs

Crabs are primarily passed through sexual contact, but also occur through physical contact with a contaminated object such as towels, sheets and blankets. Crabs are found mostly in adolescents, and are not spread from or found on animals. While crabs prefer the pubic area, they are not regulated to just that hair region.

These parasites also feed on hair found in other areas, such as leg hair, armpits, facial hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes. Lice found in the head region are considered head lice. When a person comes into contact with crabs, the symptoms may not manifest for a while, so a person may be unaware that they have contracted the infection. Lice have also been known to spread other diseases, such as typhus.

Behaviors of Crabs

Crabs become the most active during the evening. The crab louse buries its head into a pubic hair follicle, and excretes a substance into the skin, which causes itching. Repeated scratching of the area may lead to a second bacterial infection. Crabs survive through two important factors: Human body warmth, and continually feeding on human blood. If separated from their human host, pubic lice can only live up to one or two days.

Other Facts to Take Into Consideration

As crabs are spread through physical contact, the most effective means to avoid contracting this infection is to abstain from physical contact, or limiting sexual partners. Specialized shampoos and natural remedies used to remove the crabs can also help to remove the infection.


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