Pubic lice

By Medically reviewed by hellodoktor


What is pubic lice?

Pubic lice, also known as crabs, are condition that occurs when you have very small insects that infest your genital area. There are three types of lice that infest humans:

  • Pediculus humanus capitis: head lice
  • Pediculus humanus corporis: body lice
  • Phthirus pubis: pubic lice

Lice feed on human blood and cause intense itching in affected areas. Pubic lice usually live on pubic hair and are usually spread through sexual contact. In some rare cases, they can be found in eyelashes, armpit hair, and facial hair. Pubic lice are often smaller than body and head lice.

How common is pubic lice?

Pubic lice infestations are more common among people who have sexually transmitted infections. However, it can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.


What are the symptoms of pubic lice?

Patients with pubic lice often undergo itching in their genital region or anus about five days after the initial infestation. At night, the itching will become more intense.

Other common symptoms of pubic lice may include:

  • Low-grade fever
  • Irritability
  • Lack of energy
  • Pale bluish spots near the bites

Excessive itching may cause wounds or an infection in the affected areas. Children with lice infestations on their eyelashes are also at risk of developing conjunctivitis (pink eye).

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs listed above or questions, please consulting with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.


What causes pubic lice?

Pubic lice are condition that typically transmitted through intimate contact, including sexual intercourse. Using the blankets, towels, sheets, or clothing of people who have pubic lice is possibly a cause of pubic lice.

Adult lice lay their eggs on the hair shaft, near the skin. These eggs are called nits. Seven to 10 days later, the nits hatch into nymphs and start feeding on your blood. The lice can live without their food supply for one to two days.

It is believed that contrary to common belief, you’re highly unlikely to get pubic lice from a toilet seat or furniture. Pubic lice usually don’t fall off of their host unless they’re dead. They also can’t jump from one person to another like fleas.

Don’t allow your children to sleep in your bed if you have a pubic lice infestation. Children may get an infestation after sleeping in the same bed as someone who has pubic lice. In children, the lice usually live in their eyelashes or eyebrows. The presence of pubic lice in a child might also indicate sexual abuse.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for pubic lice?

There are many risk factors for pubic, such as:

  • Have many sexual partners
  • Have sexual contact with an infected person
  • Share bedding or clothing with an infected person

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is pubic lice diagnosed?

If your doctor suspects that you may experience this condition, a physical examination will be performed.

It is noticed that lice are usually pale gray, but they can darken in color after drinking your blood. You’re possibly infested with lice if you see small, crab-shaped insects moving in your pubic hair.

Lice eggs are another indicator of infestation. The eggs are tiny and white, and are usually found around the roots of pubic hair or other body hair.

Call your doctor if you’re showing signs of a pubic lice infestation but aren’t completely sure that you have one.

How is pubic lice treated?

Treatment options for pubic lice consist of decontaminating yourself, your clothes, and your bedding.

  • Topical, over-the-counter lotions and shampoos can be used to remove pubic lice from your body. You should ask your doctor which products are safe to use if you are pregnant or breast-feeding, or are treating an infant for pubic lice. You may only need to wash your pubic hair if your lice infestation is mild.
  • Even after successful treatment, some few stubborn lice eggs might cling to your hairs. Remove any leftover nits with tweezers. Home remedies, such as shaving and hot baths, aren’t effective for treating pubic lice. Lice can easily survive ordinary soap and water.
  • If several people in your household have contracted pubic lice, treat everybody at the same time.
  • You will also need to decontaminate your home. Vacuum the entire house and clean the bathroom with bleach solution. Wash all towels, bedding, and clothing in hot water, and machine dry them using the highest setting.
  • You might need stronger medicine if the lice survive these efforts.

For pubic lice in eyelashes, apply petroleum jelly to the lashes and eyelids three times a day for a few days.

Itching may persist for a week or two as your body works through its allergic reaction to the bites.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage pubic lice?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with pubic lice:

  • Avoid sharing clothes, bedding, or towels with anyone who has pubic lice
  • Sexual contact should also be avoided until treatment is complete and successful.
  • Once you’ve been diagnosed with pubic lice, you must inform all current and past sexual partners so that they can be treated as well

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: August 3, 2017 | Last Modified: September 13, 2019