Sexually Transmitted Diseases: Pubic Lice, Crabs

Pubic lice are different from other STDS. It's not a virus and it's not a bacteria. Pubic lice are living creatures, parasites that are passed from one person to another. You cannot prevent contracting pubic lice from an infected partner by using a condom, but pubic lice can be cured. Uncomfortable, unrelenting itching is the first indication of infection. This is caused by the movement of the lice across your body and through your hair, and also by when the lice feed.

Pubic lice have sharp mouths, designed to puncture your skin and drink your blood. Lice need to ingest human blood in order to survive. Feeding can also cause inflammation if your skin has a reaction to the saliva or the bites. Itching only increases inflammation and can help the lice spread from one area to another.

When the infected area is inspected, living lice as well as their eggs will be visible. The louse itself will look like a very tiny sea crab. They are grey or tan in color, with a broad form, antennae and six legs. The first two legs are equipped with pincher claws, which enable the lice to grasp individual hair shafts.

The eggs, called "nits," are light in color and are fastened with a glue-like substance to hair shafts by the female louse. The adult female louse can lay up to thirty eggs before she dies. A nit takes approximately one week to hatch, and the new louse (called a nymph) takes one week to mature. This means that after each round of nits, it only takes two weeks for a new batch to begin breeding and feeding. Initially, one might not notice an infestation. Within one month, however, infestation will be apparent, and the severity of infection only increases from there.

So how do you get pubic lice?

Pubic lice can only survive for two days without being attached to a human host. They also move slowly, because they are quite small, from hair shaft to hair shaft. This makes getting lice from inanimate objects difficult. Lice are almost always transmitted from direct sexual contact with an infected partner. Rarely, lice can be acquired from towels, clothing, or bedding, but only if there is little time between users.

Pubic lice are different from other STDs, because the symptoms are very visible and you don't need to go through blood or fluid tests to know you have it. You'll see the lice on your skin and in your hair. It's important to remove the lice right away. They cause damage to skin, they're uncomfortable, it's embarrassing, and it only gets worse.

Pubic lice can be treated with shampoos similar to the ones used on the more common head louse. However, it's important to use a non-chemical shampoo to ensure that you do not cause any harm to your sensitive pubic area. 

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