How Do You Know if You Have Pubic Lice?

Do you feel bothered about having intense itching in your genitalia? How do you know if you have pubic lice? What are pubic lice, and where do you get them? If you feel like you have a case of STI or Sexually Transmitted Infections, go and seek an urgent consultation.

Remember to not engage in any sexual activities to prevent the spread of the infection. According to WHO, approximately there are more than a million STIs acquired daily across the world. This article will give you in-depth details on how to find out if you have pubic lice.

What do you need to know about public lice?

What are public lice, and how do you know if you have pubic lice?

As mentioned earlier, you can transmit STIs through sexual contact and even non-contact modes. They have the same flow as in the case of pubic lice.

Public lice are typical parasites that infect approximately millions of people of all races, ethnicity, and gender across the globe yearly.

how do you know if you have pubic lice

Also called “crabs,” pubic lice commonly infest pubic hair but can be found in armpit hair, eyelashes, eyebrows, beard, and torso too.

The infestation is also known as pediculosis pubis. Meanwhile, the lice are known as Phthirus pubis.

Crabs are tiny insects that do not live on the scalp, unlike head lice.

Related: How to Lose Fat Around Private Area in 5 Easy Ways Forever

Size and Visibility

Crabs are tiny and measure about 2 mm long. How do you know if you have public lice then? Can you spot crabs visibly and easily?

Public lice are visible and seen easily but sometimes cannot become effortlessly noticeable due to the coarseness of the hair.

Public lice do bite the skin and feed on blood. Crabs begin their life series on the human body by laying eggs, so it is common to find their sacs in the pubic hair along with the louse, as well.

How do you get pubic lice?

Typically we can locate the pubic lice or crabs in the genitals. Although, crabs can affect other spots in the body, like the armpit hair, beard, eyelashes, eyebrows, torso.

Due to their customary location, pubic lice are transmissible generally via direct sexual contact. During sexual activity, crabs can easily lay or transfer their eggs or egg sacs from person to person.

Since they have other target areas in the body, there are also ways that you can acquire pubic lice without being sexually active.

You can get pubic lice from sharing your clothes

When you share your pants or any form of intimate clothing like your underwear, you can acquire crabs. Pubic lice and their egg sacs can cling onto the fabric like how they clasp onto the hair.

You can get public lice from sharing your wipers

The phenomenon goes the same as when you share your clothes with others. Pubic lice can stick to the cloth along with their egg sacs and transfer from person to person. The crabs can affect the armpits or beard, eyelashes, and eyebrows through this.

You can get pubic lice from using a bed with someone

Sharing a bed with someone with crabs or using one that a person with pubic lice has slept with can also be one of the reasons to acquire the infirmity. Crabs do solicit heat, so they relocate to a human body when left in an open space.

Related: CoolSculpting for Pubic Fat Control – Can It Help?

How do you figure out if you have pubic lice?

Having crabs or pubic lice can cause uneasiness and unpleasantness. Noticing the indications and manifestations of public lice can aid and signal you when you should get treated.

The most frequent indication of having pubic lice is finding and locating them in your pubic area. While you may have just found a single crab, it is more likely to have more.

The following are the warning symptoms of having pubic lice or crabs:

how do you know if you have pubic lice

Prickling pubic area

The most prevalent symptom is the itching of the pubic area apart from recognizing the presence of the louse. You may get prickly or itchiness from the bites of the crabs. Moreover, you may have the same sensation as they feed through the blood and move around. Often, the itching happens at nighttime. 

Soreness and irritation

If the area is prickly and itchy, you will conduce to scratch. Since the crabs typically infest the pubic area which, has one of the most sensitive skins in the body, scratching might cause soreness, swelling, and an allergic response to the bites and saliva.

Blood spots

When pubic lice inhabit your pubic, facial, abdominal, thighs, or armpit areas, they may leave marks of blood, or often, they appear as blue dots. These marks are a by-product of pubic lice biting and feeding on the blood.

Unusual black specks in clothing

Crabs are insects, and since they are living, they need to excrete. You may notice or find black powder specks in your clothing or underwear. The black powder is the excrement of crabs.

Related: How to Lighten Dark Inner Thighs and Pubic Area in 3 Effortless Ways

What do crabs look like?

Can you see pubic lice? What do crabs like when you see them? Pubic lice have three kinds. They are:

  • Nit or egg
  • Nymph or an immature louse
  • Adult form

Nit or egg type

Nits are the eggs. They can be tough to detect and sticks firmly to the hair shaft. Nits are oval-shaped and customarily yellow to white. On average, the eggs or nits typically hatch around six to ten days.

Nymph or immature louse

The nymph is a young louse that arises from the nit or egg. The immature crab appears like an adult pubic louse though it is tinier. These nymphs necessitate around two to three weeks after hatching to evolve into adults fitted for spawning. To further develop and grow, an immature crab must feast on blood.

Adult form

The adult form of a pubic louse mirrors a miniature crab when seen through a strong magnifying lens. Hence, it was also known as crabs. Pubic lice hold six legs. The two front legs of pubic lice are noticeably large and resemble the pincher claws of a crab.

Crabs are tan to grayish-white in color. Females lay eggs or nit and are usually bigger than males. They feed and depend on blood to live. If the louse drops off its host, it expires within one to two days.

Are pubic lice a virus or bacteria?

People often link pubic lice with sexually transmitted diseases since these are transmissible from person to person, which varies from direct sexual to non-direct contact through personal belongings or shared things.

You may begin to wonder, is pubic lice a type of virus or bacteria?

There are various types of lice, and they live and thrive on different parts of the body. Lice may infest your scalp (Pediculus humanus capitis) or the body (Pediculus humanus corporis).

Pediculosis pubis or crabs is the term we call the lice in the pubic hair of a human body. Pubic lice are parasites or insects. The insect accountable is known as, Pthirus pubis.

Treatments: How to get rid of pubic lice?

So, you have pubic lice, and it is starting to cause you discomfort. You fear that you may infect others, too. How do you address or treat crabs?

The following are some of the medications prescribed for pubic lice:

Permethrin or creams containing pyrethrins and piperonyl butoxide

Permethrin lotion or mousse that kills lice containing pyrethrins and piperonyl butoxide. They are usually OTC (over-the-counter) and available without a prescription. They are safe and effective to employ

Lindane shampoo

If permethrin lotion and pyrethrins, and piperonyl butoxide formulations are OTC, lindane shampoo requires a prescription from your physician. The shampoo is not a recommended first line of therapy as it is toxic to the brain and your nervous system. Thus, Lindane shampoo is not suitable for the following

  • premature infants
  • children
  • seizure patients
  • individuals weighing less than 110lbs
  • the elderly
  • Expecting women, or those breastfeeding
  • those who have irritation on the area of affectation that needs to be targeted

What are the steps to adhere to when treating lice?

  • Inspect for lice in your armpit hairs and other hairy parts within the body. Make sure to wash and dry your body properly.
  • Employ the prescribed shampoo or cream on all the sections that may have crabs. The insects may be in your thighs, armpits, and torso (i.e., lower abdomen, thighs, and buttocks, including near the anal area). However, do not put it on your eyelashes.
  • Leave on the shampoo or cream for the time prescribed in the preparations, then clean it well.
  • Remove the eggs from your hair strands with your fingers or a fine-toothed comb. Put on clean undergarments and clothes following the treatment.
  • Wash your clothes, bed sheetings, and wipers using the hot rounds of your appliance and dryer. The heat kills the crabs. Position objects you cannot clean in a sealed plastic pouch for two weeks. Or take them for dry-cleaning.
  • Do not diffuse insecticide on your garments or other articles in your home.
  • Cease any sexual activity until the crabs go incessantly, typically around two weeks.
  • Rework the therapy in nine to ten days if the lice persist.

Prevention: how to fight the spread of crabs?

If you have a confirmed case of pubic lice and you are getting the necessary treatments and advice from your care provider, your next question might be: how to prevent pubic lice? How can I fight off from acquiring the parasite or infecting the others, too?

The solitary confirmed method to limit pubic lice is to evade any intimate physical contact with somebody. Nevertheless, you can take sensible measures to reduce your chance for crabs and stop them from growing back.

To do:

  • Restrict your sex companions. Also, try to refrain from having sexual contact with individuals who have various sex partners.
  • Ensure that your partner(s) get managed if you got a case of pubic lice.
  • Remember to rinse, dry clothing, linens, and wipers.
  • Complete the therapy needed and verify that the crabs are gone before returning to the activity.

What not to do:

  • Have sex or a close physical connection with a person infected with crabs.
  • Share your personal belongings like apparel, linens, or wipers with a person who has crabs.
  • Apply insecticide sprays. Insecticides do not control crabs and can be dangerous to your health.
  • Try on bathing suits during buying. If you do try them on, make sure you have your undergarments. Refrain from putting them directly to your bare body.


Long term effects of pubic lice

Seldom, a pubic lice infestation can traverse to minor complexities, such as developing skin or eye problems. Although, they do not transmit disease. If pubic lice are left untreated, the following complications might occur:

  • Scratching. Since pubic lice can irritate due to their bites. Crabs can also cause an allergic reaction on the skin from their saliva individuals will tend to scratch the area affected. Scratching can lead to an infection such as impetigo or furunculosis.
  • Some eye infections. Pubic lice may also infest your eyelashes or eyebrows and may cause conjunctivitis. Crabs may also induce inflammation of the eye or blepharitis.
  • Unaddressed, long-term infestations lead by constant irritation and inflammation can eventually make you feel ill.

In general rule and as a means of prevention, you should undergo some tests for other sexually transmitted infections or STIs if you acquired pubic lice via direct, sexual contact.

Please do bear in mind that lice do not transmit or cause HIV or other forms of STIs, but a consultation is usually the best advice and move as a precautionary measure.

FAQ

How do you tell if you have lice in your pubic hair?

How do you know if you have pubic lice? Often, pubic lice and egg sacs or nits are noticeable by the naked eye. However, due to the coarseness of hair, they may not be visible.

There is constant irritation or itching in your pubic area or other areas affected, especially at night.

There are dark, blue or blood spots in the area affected.

You may find black powder material in your undergarments or piece of clothing as these are the excrements of the pubic lice.

How long can you have pubic lice without being aware?

The affected individuals do not get the symptoms right away until the lice live for about five days in the system. However, some do not get manifestations at all.

How would you know if you had crabs?

How do you know if you have pubic lice? You would understand if you had crabs by seeing dark spots or blue or blood spots in the affected area with black powder excrements on your garments or clothing.

Can you acquire pubic lice if you do not have hair?

There was no advice from the CDC or other health outlets regarding shaving to get rid of pubic lice infestation. Crabs cannot reproduce in different hair types.

But pubic lice have various areas that they can target and infest, like the armpits, eyelashes, eyebrows, in your torso or lower abdomen area, thighs, and near the anal region.

How do I check myself for lice?

To check yourself for lice in general, you may use a fine-toothed comb to brush the strand of hair, and you may use a light to focus the area affected. You may see some mini, brown-colored insects moving around, or there are eggs (nits) that stick onto the hair shaft.

Can you feel pubic lice crawling?

One of the manifestations and answers to the question, how do you know if you have pubic lice involves having the sensation and seeing that the pubic lice are crawling and moving on the area. There may also be eggs or nits clinging onto the hair strands.

Conclusion

Pubic lice or crabs are not a form of bacteria or a virus. These are insects that thrive on your genital area, armpits, eyebrows, eyelashes, torso or lower abdominal area, thighs, anal region. How do you know if you have pubic lice?

They are often visible to the naked eye, but some require a magnifying lens or thorough inspection as they might cling onto the hair shaft. You will get the sensation of scratch due to the itchiness, irritation, and inflammation on the area of affectation.

Moreover, the soreness is due to an allergic reaction from the saliva of the pubic lice.

Crabs are transmissible via direct sexual or non-direct contact (through clothing, beddings, towels, or even sharing and using a bed with the causative insect).

There is various way on how to treat pubic lice. Methods and therapy range from OTC medications to the prescribed ones. And self-management techniques.

Keep in mind to wash your clothes, beddings, towels, use the medications as prescribed, refrain from any sexual activity until cleared to refrain from spreading crabs.

Heat can also help kill pubic lice, so it is a must to employ heat while washing your clothing and beddings too.

Lastly, remember to seek the help of a medical professional for your health concerns and if the condition persists. Moreover, when you want to make sure of your clinical manifestations and how to manage them.

Dr. Omair Ansar, MBBS, MSc

Dr. Omair is a skilled medical doctor with a degree in Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery from Baqai Medical University. In 2018, he completed a Master of Science degree in Healthcare Management with distinction from Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, UK. With 9 years of clinical and non-clinical experience, Dr. Omair has gained hands-on experience and extensive knowledge in the medical field. He is currently working in a multinational healthcare organization in Saudi Arabia where his primary responsibility is to train doctors, pharmacists, and nurses about the most updated clinical guidelines as well as conduct case discussions with various specialties to ensure patient safety and satisfaction. Dr. Omair is also an exceptional medical reviewer with expertise in the field of healthcare, pharmaceutical, food and nutrition as well as medical insurance. He has years of experience in writing and reviewing medical articles.

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