Pubic lice

Pubic lice are also known as “crabs” because they look like tiny crab-like organisms when viewed under a microscope. Pubic lice spread through close physical contact with pubic hair or other hair and through contact with contaminated bedding, towels or clothing. Pubic lice primarily live in pubic hair but can be found in underarm hair, chest, and facial hair, including eyelashes and eyebrows. Adult lice feed on blood and lay tiny eggs (nits) that attach to the hair shaft.

Condoms offer no protection against pubic lice.


  • Intense itching in areas of the body where there is pubic hair or other hair.
    • Persistent scratching of infected areas may irritate the skin and pose an infection risk.


  • Over-the-counter lotion or shampoo is available to treat pubic lice. It is important to pay close attention to the directions given with treatment products, as pubic lice eggs require removal using a comb or your fingers.
  • Lice eggs can hatch in bedding, clothing and towels. Use hot (50 Celsius/122 Fahrenheit or higher) water when cleaning bedding, clothing and towels, and be sure to dry items in a dryer on the hottest setting to kill the eggs.
  • All household contacts and recent sexual partners within the past month should receive treatment to prevent pubic lice from reoccurring.
  • Itchiness can persist for weeks after treatment. Talk to your health-care provider about anti-itch medications and creams that can help.

For more information about pubic lice and other sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBIs), visit Sex and U- Public Lice

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Last updated: 2023-07-25