Pubic lice are an even less frequently discussed problem than head lice. Although they are different organisms, and are identified differently, head lice and pubic lice are spread similarly. However, head lice and crab lice are rarely found on the same person.
As their name suggests, head lice live on the head and rarely leave the head area for any reason. Pubic lice, crab lice, crabs, or pediculosis pubis, are tiny crab-like creatures that live in pubic and anal hair and sometimes in other hair below the neck.
How Do Crab Lice Spread?
They are usually transmitted through sexual intercourse, but you can also get Infested by sharing clothes or a bed with an infested person. Direct contact with a person who is infested or exposure to infested bed clothing or other surfaces can spread pubic lice.
They live a maximum of 24 hours off the body, so it is extremely rare to catch it any other way than through sexual intercourse with an infected person. Changing sexual partners frequently spreads the proliferation of pubic lice, commonly known as “crabs.”
Difference Between Head and Pubic Lice
Head lice and pubic lice are quite different, although they are “cousins.” Pubic lice are small, parasitic insects similar to head lice, except that they tend to live in the pubic area, although if you are very hairy pubic lice can spread to the chest hair, underarms or scalp.
Head lice are crawling insects usually less than an eighth of an inch long and almost as wide. They live by stabbing a tiny opening in the scalp and feeding on blood. It is their feeding which causes the itching. Pubic lice are smaller, fatter versions of head lice.
They are shaped like little crabs, complete with claws, which is why people began to call them “crab lice” or “crabs.” They function in much the same manner as head lice, but tend to live in areas of the body where there is coarse, sparse hair, such as the pubic regions, underarms, and sometimes eyebrows and eyelashes.
Do Pubic Lice Spread Disease?
Pubic lice do not necessarily indicate the presence of venereal disease, but infected people should be medically examined for possible accompanying venereal disease, Reports indicate that 38 percent of individuals with crab lice have had one or more sexually transmitted diseases.
How to Treat Pubic Lice
Treatment of pubic lice is accomplished with the same products recommended for head lice. Special care should be taken to follow directions, using only the amount necessary to kill the lice. Caution is advised in using any of the products around sensitive genital areas to reduce the amount of absorption of the pesticide lotions and shampoos.
You should go to a doctor or clinic, but there are over-the-counter preparations you can buy, and these are in the form of a cream, lotion or shampoo. To apply the cream or lotion: Bathe thoroughly and dry yourself properly and put the cream or lotion on the affected areas.
Wash off the cream or lotion completely 12 hours after application. Repeat a week later if necessary. Sterilizing all clothing, particularly underwear, and bed clothes is necessary. Drying in a hot clothes dryer for at least 20 minutes will kill lice and their eggs.