Crabs / Pubic Lice

What is it?
Crabs or Pubic lice, is Pthirus pubis and is a parasite that feeds on a persons blood and is usually found in pubic hair, they have claws to enable them to grip onto your pubic hairs, possibly even chest hair, arm pits, beard or mustache. Although they feed from your blood, they can not pass on HIV. Shaving your pubic hair doesn’t get rid of the infestation.

Who gets it?
The lice is usually transfered by close body contact, it can also be caught from bedding, clothes and towels.

What are the symptoms?
Intense itching and you might notice very small bugs in your pubic hair, some report the itching being worse at night. If you plan visiting your GP for medication, but can’t for a few days and the itching is really bad, you could hydrocortisone cream from your local pharmacy, but it will only help with the itching, you still need treatment to get rid of the crabs.

How do I protect myself?
The only way to prevent crabs is to not have sex, not even condoms can protect you from crabs. While condoms protect you from most STI’s, condoms won’t protect you from crabs.

You can get treatment from your pharmacy, GUM clinic or your GP. You maybe given a gel, shampoo, liquid or foam. Stronger medicines can be prescribed by your GP.

Normally you will need to apply the lotion from the neck down.

You will need to wash bed clothing and towels in a hot wash. If anyone shares your bedding or towels, they may also need treatment as well, otherwise you could re-infect yourself or partner(s).