If My Partner Has Pubic Lice Will I Get It Too?

The short answer to this question is: most likely. If however, your partner notices the pubic lice right away, and immediately works to remove them, there may be a chance you don't get lice. This will be explained in detail below.

What are Pubic Lice?

Lice are tiny insects that can live on people and feed off of their blood, and can be 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.

Pubic lice are often called crabs, and are most commonly found on pubic hair, but can also be found on facial hair, chest hair and in the armpits. Lice of all kinds are spread by contact; pubic lice are no different, and are mostly spread through sexual contact.

How Do We Get Pubic Lice?

Pubic lice are spread through contact, most often sexual contact. However, a person can also get pubic lice by coming in contact with a surface recently touched by another with pubic lice (this is true for lice in general). Lice can live up to two days off the body, increasing the likelihood of it spreading. You or your partner may become infested if you share the following items after someone with crabs has used them:

  • Hats,
  • Scarves
  • Any clothing items
  • Bedding
  • Pillows

If you wear your infected partner's clothes, you will increase your chance of getting lice.

What Should I Do If My Partner Has Pubic Lice?

Taking these steps as soon as you discover the lice can reduce your risk of getting pubic lice from your partner. Remember, lice can live up to two days off the body.

  1. Treat the lice as soon as you notice it. Over the counter creams and shampoos can be used.
  2. Inspect yourself to see if there are any lice on you.
  3. Wash all bedding (sheets, blankets, mattress pads) in very hot water, at least 130 Fahrenheit, and dry on high heat for at least 20 minutes. Wash all clothing that may have been exposed in the same manner.
  4. Wash combs or any other items in very hot water, or soak in rubbing alcohol for at least one hour.
  5. Put any items that cannot be washed into airtight bags for at least two weeks.
  6. Vacuum your floors to remove any lice on them.
  7. Think of any other surfaces that may have been in contact with the lice. Think of the couch, toilet seat, etc that may have lice. Inspect and clean these areas appropriately.
  8. Don't have sex until the lice clears up.

Sources:

http://children.webmd.com/tc/lice-topic-overview

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lice/basics/definition/con-20021627

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