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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

Pubic Lice

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Pubic lice, also called crabs, are tiny parasites that breed in the genital area. Lice are usually transmitted by close personal contact such as sexual activity and less commonly through the sharing of clothing or bedding. Symptoms can appear immediately or may not be noticed for months.

Signs of pubic lice include:

  • Intense itching in the affected area
  • Blood specks on the underwear
  • Actually seeing nits (eggs) or lice themselves

Pubic lice are usually treated with a medicated shampoo or lotion with 1% permethrin (Nix, Elimite, or Kwell) or pyrethrin (RID). Treatment for pubic lice is as follows

  1. Apply the medicated shampoo liberally to the hair and skin of the pubic area.
  2. Work thoroughly into the hair and allow to remain on for ten minutes.
  3. Add small quantities of water until a lather is formed.
  4. Rinse thoroughly, then towel briskly.
  5. When hair is dry, any remaining nits (eggs) should be removed with a fine–toothed comb or tweezers.
  6. Re–treatment is not necessary unless live lice are seen seven days after initial treatment.

Sexual contacts and others who may have been exposed should be examined and treated if necessary. Pubic lice will also get on bedding and clothing so it is important that any bedding or clothing worn in the past 3 days be laundered (washing on hot cycle and dried on hot cycle for at least 20 min or dry–cleaned) at the same time you are being treated to avoid reinfestation. Normal vacuuming and cleaning should eliminate the problem from furniture and carpet.  For more information please see the attached link to the CDC website.