STIndex: Pubic Lice

Dr Yaz gets us up to speed on crabs
Name: Pubic lice aka “crabs”
Type: Parasite (yeah, ew)
Fun fact: You don’t need to bump uglies to pass on these little blood suckers. If your partner has an infested beard or chest hair you could find yourself with an itchy problem!
Common misconceptions: Shaving your pubes does not protect you from re-infestation. Lice only need a tiny amount of hair to lay eggs on. However, one study has suggested there might be a reduction in levels in the population as removing pubic hair has become more popular.
How it spreads: Close contact with a person (which doesn’t have to be sexual) gives these little blighters the opportunity to hop host. 
Symptoms: People most commonly present with an itchy, red, pimple-like rash one to three weeks after infestation, which often gets worse at night. You might also see blue patches in the areas where they are actively feeding and tiny brown specs on skin and underwear (which is louse poo!).
Evil super power: The pubic louse (or Pthirus Pubis to give them their proper name) doesn’t just like to lurk in your personal garden. They will live on any coarse hair, including the head, armpits, back and even eye lashes.
Key weakness: These pesky critters can be thwarted with topical insecticides.
Keeping safe: If you think you’ve acquired the lice from a sexual partner it might be worth checking into your local GUM clinic for treatment, contact tracing and screening for other STIs.
Being polite: You should avoid any close body contact with any sexual partners and family members until you or they have been completely treated. This includes sharing clothes and towels. Anyone you have had close contact with over the last 3 months should also be informed, so they can be examined.


For more info on recognising and treating pubic lice, check out the Brook website

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