The Life Cycle of Pubic Lice

Introduction to Pubic Lice

Pubic lice (also known as crabs) are a six legged parasitic infection that is known as a sexually transmitted disease (STD). These organisms are commonly found in the hair of the body's pubic area, but can be found in other locations.

Pubic lice are a human infection, as animals do not contract or spread the disease. As public lice are small organisms, they go through three distinct life stages before becoming an adult. Those stages are as follows: Nit, Nymph and Adult. It takes three weeks for lice to develop from an egg to full maturity.

The Birth of an Infection

Nits are known as pubic lice eggs. A female louse can lay fifty to one hundred fifty eggs in their lives. These egg sacs are attached to the base of the coarse hairs found in the pubic region by glue like, water resistant substances that is difficult to remove.

Nits are oval in shape and have a yellow or while coloring. It takes an average of seven to ten days for a nymph to hatch from its egg.

The Middle Stages

Once a nymph has hatched, they must feed on human blood within twenty four hours after birth. When hatched, nymphs look much like their adult selves, but are smaller in size. Nymphs will molt a total of three times in order to become an adult, which is reached within seven to ten days.

The Emergence of an Adult

When the nymph develops into a full adult, its appearance becomes a more defined version of its younger self. A pubic louse looks like a small six legged creature that has its front two legs built like and resembling the pincers of a crab. Like a nymph, a full grown louse must feed on human blood to survive, and does so by digging into and burying its head into a pubic hair follicle to feed.

The coloration of an adult louse ranges from tan to a grayish white color.

A full grown adult's average size can measure up to 1.2 millimeters in diameter, though females are usually larger than males due to laying eggs. Adult lice can usually be seen through a microscope or a high powered magnifying glass. If a louse falls off a person, it can not survive without the necessary body warmth and food supply, and will die within one or two days.

Pubic lice can spread to new locations by transferring to other people during sexual contact, or in a much more rare instance, a person coming into contact with an unclean towel, bed sheets, or clothing from an infested person.

It is Important to Get Tested

When a person has been infected by pubic lice, the symptoms may take anywhere from two to four weeks before they begin to manifest. Once the symptoms are recognized, it is important to seek and receive treatment in order to remove the infestation and remove the risk of getting any secondary infections.


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