How Can I Protect Myself From Pubic Lice?

What are Pubic Lice?

Pubic lice is an uncomfortably, embarrassing STD that often causes feeling of shame, anxiety and humiliation in its patients, along with physical itching and discomfort. Unfortunately, public lice can still be transmitted, even if protection (such as a male or female condom) is used, making it difficult to always safeguard oneself from infestation.

The pubic louse, sometimes call crab louse due to its resemblance to a sea crab, is a small parasitic creature that requires human blood to survive. It is small, dull in color, and has four legs and two pinchers. They use the pinchers to move about the hair, gripping individual hair shafts, and also to grip the hair during feeding. They have special mouthparts that allow them to penetrate the flesh and suck the blood into their mouths.

Where do you find Pubic Lice?

They are typically found in the pubic area, though can in rare cases be transmitted to leg, arm, or facial hair. They are never found on animals, as only human blood will sufficiently nourish them. Lice are transmitted almost exclusively via close, sexual contact. Lice are unable to live for more than two days without attachment to a host, meaning that it is difficult to catch a louse from a toilet seat or other inanimate objects. Occasionally, lice may be transmitted via shared towels, clothing or bedding, or by sleeping beside a person with lice even without sexual contact.

Sexual Contact and Pubic Lice

During close contact, such as intercourse, the lice may switch hosts during movement, by securing themselves to the uninfected partner's hair. Once they have secured themselves on a new host, they will begin feeding. An adult female louse is capable of producing up to thirty eggs within her lifetimes. The egg of a louse, called a nit, only takes one week to hatch. A baby louse, called a nymph, also only requires on week to mature and, if a female, begin laying her own nits. Therefore, the lice infection grows exponentially, making the initial infection difficult to notice, but the later infection potentially severe and very uncomfortable.

Signs of Infection

The first sign of an infection is usually a persistent, irritating itching. Inflammation and redness may also appear if the skin has a negative reaction to the bite or saliva of a feeding louse.

Itching will increase in severity as the infection manifests, as well as at night, when the lice become more physically active and inclined to feed. The infected area will have visible lice and nits. Nits are small, white in color, and found affixed to individual hair shafts.

It is important to start treating for pubic lice as soon as possible. If the infection is in a small area, you can begin by carefully combing through to remove individual lice and their nits. Usually, you will have to use a special shampoo. Rinsing with water will not remove the lice, they are capable of using their pinchers to grasp onto hair for long periods of time.

Head lice and pubic lice can be treated with the same or similar shampoos, but in the case of pubic lice it's important to make sure you are not using a shampoo with chemicals that will harm you.

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