Pubic Lice

Pediculosis Pubis - Otherwise Known as Pubic Lice.

Known as 'crabs', these nasty little creatures although relatively harmless, can really mess with your mind. Pubic lice are incredibly common and tend to happen in small epidemics, due to the transmission of them being so simple. If you catch them, you will know about it. Having tiny little 'crab-like' creatures breeding in your pubic hair is enough to make the strongest stomach squirm with disgust.

So what are they exactly?

They are parasitic insects, parasitic meaning these are insects that must living on another organism in order to survive - in this case humans. The disgusting part about them is that they live by drinking your blood (though they only take microscopic amounts).


Unfortunately out of all the Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) this is by far most the most easily caught. You do not need to have sex (so I guess it's debatable whether it should be called a STD). These horrible little things are transmitted through close sexual contact, through wearing someone else's lower clothing (such as jeans) if they have not been washed and the previous wearer was infected. From someone else's towel. They are also easily caught from bed linen. So if you sleep in a bed someone with this infestation has slept in, it's highly likely you will also catch pubic lice. So if you are in a relationship and one of you gets 'crabs', don't automatically assume they have cheated on you. They may have just crashed at a friend's house whose bed linen was infested by these parasites.

What are the symptoms?

When you are first infected there are a few days to a week where you may not have symptoms (this is while these lovely creatures are breeding).
But once they start, the symptoms include:
Severe itching in the region of public hair
Visually they look like tiny, short and squat, with crab-like legs (hence the name 'crabs').
You may notice what appear to be tiny bits of rust coloured specks in the public hair (this is from the lice digested blood).
Occasionally you may find these lice in underarm hair, eyebrow hair and beard (obviously you must be male for the latter).


Now if you have these symptoms, you don't really need to see your doctor, however you must take a visit to your pharmacist. Do not do what many people do in their panic of discovering that they have 'crabs', and shave off your pubic hair. These creatures lay eggs, and chances are there will be some remaining after you do this, and you will find yourself with the same problem a week or two later. The best thing you can do is to go to your local chemist, ask for a treatment for 'pubic lice' and you will be given the correct product. Ensure you follow the instructions on the bottle. These products are usually insecticide shampoos, and many contain gamma benzene hexachloride. If this is not the main ingredient, don't worry, if it's produced to destroy pubic lice everything will be fine.

Now it's important that all clothes, towels and bed linen is washed in hot water to prevent a reinfestation. As hot water will destroy any remaining eggs. It would also be courteous to let anyone know who has slept in your bed, used your clothing, towels, etc, so that they are aware the may about to endure 'the crab experience'. Tell your partner, or anyone who you have slept with, so that they can be prepared. And hunt down the culprit, if it was someone you had recently slept with. Now don't get too angry with the person who gave it to you as there's a few days grace where breeding of the lice occurs, and the person infected won't notice that they have an infestation straight away. Just remember, although this disease is uncomfortable and embarrassing; go easy on the person responsible for giving them to you. Half the population has probably had it, so really don't get down on yourself. It's just like an adult's version of child head lice, only in a different area.

Oh, and there are no physical complications what so ever, just maybe a few arguments about who gave it to who! And honestly this STD is like wildfire it spreads incredibly quickly. If you have ever caught crabs, or are in the middle of an infestation, in later years this is one STD that you'll be able to laugh about.

- Louise Ganey