Pubic Lice (Crabs) Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Just the thought of having anything crawling on your body can give you a creepy sensation and make you start to itch. Having actual crawling, biting, blood-sucking insects on your body can make you feel dirty and embarrassed, as well as "creeped out" and itchy. Equipping yourself with accurate information is an excellent step in rectifying the situation or preventing a future occurrence.

What are Pubic Lice and How to Recognize Them

Tiny brown, or gray-white wingless insects, that could be mistaken for dirt or moles, and are most often found in the genital region, are known as pubic lice. Pubic lice enjoy living on coarse hairs in the genital and anal area, but will also make due with armpits, and facial hair such as moustaches, beards, eyelashes and eyebrows, if they're given the chance.

When you look at pubic lice, you notice that four of their six legs resemble crab-like claws, hence, the name "crabs". Crabs use these claws to help them grasp their host's hair and hook onto the skin while they feast on your blood.

How Pubic Lice are Transmitted

Transmission is usually accomplished by sexual contact with an infected individual. Unlike other STD's, using a condom will not provide protection from pubic lice. If you engage in oral sex and your partner has crabs, they may still infect you, choosing to inhabit your eyelashes and eyebrows or facial hair. Pubic lice can also live for short periods of time in bedding, clothes, and towels.

Pubic Lice Symptoms to Watch For

Depending on the amount of crabs that you first contract, you may begin experiencing a very intense itchiness in the affected area immediately, or within a couple of weeks. The crabs may be more active at night, heightening the itchy sensation. When examining the infected area, you may observe the crab shaped insects or their eggs. The skin may be inflamed, or infected from persistent scratching. If an individuals eyelashes are infested, the eyes may also be inflamed.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Pubic Lice

If the pubic lice are apparent, medical diagnosing is not immediately necessary. However, if you have acquired crabs, the chances are pretty good that you may also have an additional STD, that you can not treat on your own. For this reason, it's a good idea to see your physician and obtain testing for STD's. Also, if the infested areas are painful, swollen, red or tender, that may signal that you have a secondary infection that may require an anti-biotic to clear it.

Crabs will not go away on their own and ignoring them will only allow them to multiply. Helping your body to become lice free, can be a tricky dilemma. There are lice shampoos available in most drug stores. The majority of these contain alcohol and pesticides that can have potentially harmful side effects to you, including stinging or allergic reactions.

When you're dealing with a sensitive condition such as pubic lice, you don't want to further irritate the situation. After your body is bug free, washing clothes and bedding in hot water is also advisable to rid this pest from your environment. Although it may be awkward, informing all sexual partners of the pubic lice is very important. This will help to prevent the spread of the crabs to others, and will also help protect you from re-infestation.

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