The pubic louse is very small parasite. Pubic lice, frequently referred to as "crabs," have been aptly named for their resemblance to the crab.
They have a broad, rounded shape and antennae.
They have six legs, but the front two end in pincher claws that facilitate the moving from hair shaft to hair shaft.
They are grey or tan in color, and have mouths equipped with parts specifically for puncturing and sucking.
Pubic lice require the blood of a human being in order to survive. They do not burrow underneath the skin or attempt to live there. Instead, they use their claws to grip hair shafts, to either secure them to one particular shaft while they feed, or to move about.
The pubic louse takes approximately one week to hatch from an egg (or a nit) into a nymph. A nymph is much like a louse, but smaller. In the space of one week, a nymph will grow into an adult louse. It is at this point that the female lice are able to lay eggs.
Any given female will lay up to 30 eggs within her lifespan. She will do this by attaching the eggs to hair shafts, using a glue substance that she produces.
Pubic lice generally nest in the pubic hair, but can, less frequently, take root in on the facial hair, or within leg or armpit hair. Pubic lice can live for no more than 2 days without being planted on a human. They cannot live on animals, and therefore cannot be passed from animal to human or from human to animal.
Because lice must be on a human to survive, the methods of transfers are very specific. The most common means is through sexual contact. The proximity on the infected person to the uninfected person makes it an ideal time for the lice to switch bodies.
It is difficult for lice to be transferred any other way, although it is possible to transfer lice by sharing a towel, clothing, or bedding, if the lice spend very little time on the object before attaching to the human.
Lice can also be spread from one person sharing a bed with another, even if no sexual contact between them occurs. Infestations can begin slowly, depending on how many adult female lice first find their way to the body. It can sometimes take up to thirty days for an infected person to notice.
The first tell-tale sign is incessant itching in the infected (usually pubic) area. This may be accompanied by redness and inflammation, which itching will only worsen. A close inspection of the itching area will reveal living lice and nits. When pubic lice are found, it's important to take care of them right away.
Aside from the embarrassment and discomfort of an infection, there's also the fact that infections get even more dire as time passes, as each new hatching of eggs produces more quickly-maturing females ready to lay more eggs. If the infection is in a small area, it's possible a thorough combing can remove all lice and their nits.
However, it's more common that an infection will occur on a larger scale in the pubic area. The best way to remove lice in this area is to use a shampoo. The shampoos are sold over-the-counter or online. Over the counter shampoos may contain chemicals that are unsafe to use on the pubic area, so it is important to make a wise choice. Using an all natural shampoo is a safer bet for the pubic area than a shampoo that relies on harsh chemicals to kill the lice.
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