Crab lice

Crab lice (Pubic lice)

What are crab lice?

Crab lice are small insects that live in coarse body hair (pubic, underarm and on hairy legs and chests). They have also been found in beards and eyelashes.

How do you contract crab lice?

Sexual contact is the most common way they are spread, although they may be transferred via other types of body contact. It is occasionally possible for them to be spread by clothing or bedding and it is possible, though very unlikely, that they could be caught from toilet seats.

What do crab lice look like?

They are skin coloured and stay still in light, so they are difficult to see. They are about 2mm in length and have large crab-like claws.

What are the signs of crab lice?

How can I get rid of crab lice?

Lotions and shampoos are available to kill the crabs and their eggs. A lotion is applied to the skin, especially the hairy areas, and left on for 12 hours before washing off. This can be repeated one week later. If using shampoos, carefully follow your doctor’s advice and the instructions on the pack.

What is the outlook?

The itching may continue for another week or so following treatment. Your sexual partner(s) should also be treated to prevent recurrence.

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