What are they?
Pubic lice , sometimes known as “crabs”, are very small insects. They have three pairs of legs.
Where do they live?
Pubic lice live on the coarse hair of the body, in areas around the genital region, thighs, abdomen, arm-pits, eye-brows and lashes. They do not live in the hair on your head.
How do they live?
The insects feed by sucking blood. The female lays eggs at the base of a hair. The eggs are called “nits” and they stick to the hair. A nit will hatch into an adult louse in about a week.
Click on the above image to download a movie of Pubic Lice in .Avi format – 4.1Mb download
or the same movie in .Mov format here – 10.1Mb download
How are they passed on?
The insect can be passed to another person during close contact. They do not jump. They do not leave the body to live in clothing or bedding.
How do I know I have caught them?
They can cause itching. The nits may be seen sticking to a hair. You may be able to see a louse on your skin.
How are they treated?
You will be given a bottle of lotion. This has to be spread on your body, especially the hairy parts, but not on your head. It should be left on for at least an hour, but over-night is better. Have a shower or bath the next morning. One treatment is usually enough. Sometimes you may need to repeat the treatment a week later.
What about bed linen?
As the lice do not live in bed-linen or clothing it is not essential to change the bed-linen, but you may prefer to do this anyway. Ordinary washing is all that is needed.
What about other people in the house?
Pubic lice are only passed by close contact, so not everyone in the house would need treatment. Someone who has had sex with you recently would need to be checked.
Who cannot have this treatment?
A pregnant woman should not use this type of treatment. She should tell the doctor she is pregnant and another treatment will be prescribed.
Please remember that using a condom offers good protection against all sexually transmitted infections, including the HIV virus. Condoms are supplied free from the Family Planning Clinics and Genito-Urinary Clinics