Pubic Lice: What are they? Causes, Stages, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Complications Treatment and Prevention

They are tiny parasitic insects that are located specifically in the pubic zone, infesting this area.

They are commonly called crabs because of their resemblance to a crab, but they can also be known as crabs.

Pubic lice can be seen with the naked eye or more clearly with a magnifying glass. The adults are grayish white, about 2 mm long and are almost as wide, with thick legs and resemble those of a crab in appearance.

They lay their eggs in pubic hair and spend their entire lives in the human host, feeding themselves by sucking blood. They can not survive without a human host.


The propagation or infestation of pubic lice usually occurs via transmission mainly during sexual contact, however, they can also spread on bedding, clothing or non-sexual body contact.

Stages of infestation development

Incubation period

This period is the time between infesting and developing symptoms.

The eggs usually hatch in 7 days and the adult lice live around 30 days. It can take up to 1 month for the symptoms to develop, since the person develops an allergic reaction to the saliva injected by the louse when biting.

Infectious period

It is time during which an infested person can infect others.

While there are live adult lice in an infested person, lice can be transmitted.


The main symptom is itching or itching in the genital area .

However, these insects can spread to any hairy area of ​​the body such as: armpits, legs, beard, mustache, among others; so that the itching could generalize.

There could also be a feverish picture, exhaustion and irritability.

When to attend the medical consultation?

Although it is a subject that could be embarrassing, it is important to consult a doctor if:

  • Has used over-the-counter products and lice persist.
  • If you have severe itching
  • You are pregnant
  • Has an infected lesion due to scratching.

Risk factor’s

It is possible that people who have other sexually transmitted infections are more likely to be infested with pubic lice.

Possible complications

  • Discolored skin : pale blue spots can develop where pubic lice have been continuously feeding.
  • Secondary infections : If the itchy lice bites cause you to scratch raw, these wounds can become infected.
  • Irritations in the eyes : people who have pubic lice on their eyelashes can develop a type of pink eye ( conjunctivitis ).


Avoid having sexual contact or sharing bedding or clothes with someone who has an infestation. If you are being treated for pubic lice, all sexual partners should also be treated.

Sexual partners should be treated at the same time as the case.

Wash the bedding, all clothes including overnight clothes and used bath towels while the infestation was present in hot, soapy or dry water.

Tests to exclude other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are advisable since people infested with pubic lice will have another sexually transmitted infection.

Have sex with only one person.


Insecticidal creams and lotions can be obtained from pharmacies. They should be used strictly in accordance with the instructions and repeated treatment after one week to kill any louse that may have hatched since the first treatment.

They should not be used around the eyes. This area can be treated with Vaseline twice a day for 8 days.

Lifestyle and home remedies

You can get rid of pubic lice with a patient and comprehensive approach that involves cleaning yourself and any personal belongings that may be contaminated.

Measures that can help eliminate lice infestations

Use of lotions and shampoos. Choose from various over-the-counter lotions and shampoos (Nix, Rid, others) manufactured to eliminate lice. Follow the instructions of the product step by step.

You may have to repeat the treatment in seven to 10 days.

Wash contaminated items. Wash the bedding, clothes and towels used during the two days before treatment with hot soapy water – at least 130 F (54 C) – and dry them on high heat for at least 20 minutes.

Dry clean or seal non-washable items. If you can not wash an item, have it dry cleaned or placed in an airtight bag for two weeks.