Four legged creatures named Spot and Fido are our best friends. They're loyal, compassionate, and love us unconditionally. Best of all, they don't feed on our blood. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the six legged creatures called Phthirus Pubis, more commonly known as pubic lice or "crabs."
Blood-sucking, pesky, uninvited, and itchy, pubic lice can be the real down side to a sexual encounter.
The pesky creature up close
Pubic lice are pinhead sized parasites, usually transmitted sexually, that resemble crabs. They prefer the warm, moist pubic region where they feed on human blood.
They can also inhabit other hairy areas, such as the abdomen, leg hair, beards, underarms, eyebrows, and eyelashes. In men they are more frequently seen on the abdomen and pubic region. In children, they are often found on the eyelashes and eyebrows.
Indications that you may have pubic lice:
- Extremely itchy pubic region
- Whitish gray or reddish brown spots on your pubic hair that look similar to dandruff, but cannot be brushed off
- Slight fever
The whitish gray spots are nits, or lice eggs, which will hatch into nymphs within 7-10 days. They turn reddish brown when the nymph begins feeding on your blood. It is important, therefore, to seek treatment in order to remove the infestation.
How is pubic lice contracted?
Pubic lice are most commonly spread through sexual encounters. It is possible for a person to contract them from an infested person's towels, clothes or linens since the lice can survive for one or two days there. However, lice prefer the moist, warm pubic region where they thrive.
How dangerous are pubic lice?
Body lice are known to transmit diseases, including typhus, however, pubic lice are not considered life-threatening. Lice are not known to jump from one person to another; however, the itching discomfort caused by sensitivity to their saliva will more than likely motivate you to get rid of them as soon as possible.
How do I get rid of pubic lice?
- If possible, shave the hair of the affected area. This will shrink the feeding ground of the lice, and dispose of any eggs clinging to the hair shaft.
- Shower thoroughly and put on clean clothing..
- Apply a formulated crème or shampoo. Natural products like peppermint oil work great, and they minimize any further skin irritation.
- Wash in hot soapy water any towels, linens, blankets, clothing, or combs that may be infected. You may want to sterilize combs in rubbing alcohol.
- Notify any recent sexual partners of the infestation.
- Avoid sexual contact until the lice have been thoroughly removed.
You may want to try some anti-inflammatory and anti-itch baths to sooth your skin, as the itching may still subsist. A little oatmeal or cornstarch sprinkled in your bath is great natural options. Your doctor will know how to best treat your condition, and answer any questions you may have. If you experience discomfort, particularly infections or fever, after receiving advice and/or medication, contact him or her immediately.