Pubic Lice Facts

Pubic lice, or "crabs" as they're more commonly known, are insects which infect humans. Hopefully this article will give you clearer, myth free understanding of the pubic louse infestation.

Fact #1: Pubic lice and head/body lice are two different species.

Pthirus pubis is the human species of pubic louse while Pediculus capitis and Pediculus humanus are the human head and body louses, respectively. As is evident from their common names, all three species infest different areas of the body.

Fact #2: Pubic lice can be found in hair other than that of the groin.

While one usually thinks of "crabs" as being associated with pubic hair of the groin, pubic lice can also be found in the hair of armpits, the anus, abdomen, and facial hair like beards and mustaches, eyelashes, and eyebrows.

Fact #3: Pubic lice can be transmitted in ways other than sexual contact.

Pubic lice have also been transmitted by shared bath towels, clothing, and bedding. Even someone sleeping in a bed recently vacated by an infected individual can contract pubic lice. Such contact can be prevented, once an infestation is identified, by washing linens, clothing, and bath towels in hot water and drying thoroughly with the hot air of a drier.

Fact #4: Like other lice species, pubic lice lay their eggs on hair shafts.

The eggs of pubic lice are smaller and harder to see than those found on the head. They are dark brown in color and have an opalescent sheen. Eggs are cemented close to the base of a hair shaft using a special substance produced by the pregnant female.

Fact #5: Pubic lice cannot infest rooms or carpets.

While pubic lice can be transmitted by shared towels, clothing, or bedding, they cannot survive long off a human host. Lice which have dropped to the floor or onto furniture will soon die from lack of food as carpets and furniture aren't generally high-traffic areas of sparsely clothed people.

Fact #6: Untreated lice infestations can result in secondary infections.

This is perhaps the greatest danger of any lice infestation. Lice, unlike fleas, generally don't consume enough blood to cause anemia. Their bites, however, can cause inflamed, itchy, red papules. Our hands and fingernails harbor a great variety of bacteria which can infect humans through the broken skin caused by itching.

Fact #7: Abstinence is the best way to prevent crabs.

The majority of pubic lice transmission occurs from sexual contact. The only way to completely avoid contact with crabs, therefore, is to avoid sexual contact. Since this is unreasonable for most people, limiting the number of sex partners is also an acceptable way to avoid lice infestation.

Fact #8: Pubic lice feed only on blood.

While lice may bite skin in various places, it's really the blood their after. They are considered haematophagous parasites, "haemato" referring to blood and "phage" referring to eating.

Fact #9: Humans do not get pubic lice from other animals.

Many other animals, including mammals and birds, are host to lice. The pubic lice which infest humans, however, are only found on other humans and therefore can only be contracted from other humans. Pubic lice infestation is certainly undesirable. It is one of the less harmful parasitic infestations, however, and can be quickly and safely treated with several natural methods.


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