Pubic Lice: Fast Facts About STDs


Fast Facts About STDs: Pubic Lice

Name of Disease or Infection
Pediculosis Pubis, also known as Pubic Lice, Crabs and Papillon d'Amour (Butterfly of Love).

Type of Disease or Infection
Parasitic infection caused by Phthirus pubis (Crab Louse).

How Common Is It?
According to the Center for Disease Control, pubic lice infection is common and worldwide.

How Do I Get It?
Pubic lice are very quickly transmitted by sexual contact. Rarely, it is spread through contact with the clothes, towels or sheets of an infected person.

The strongest symptom is mild to intense itching in areas with pubic hair. It may also be possible to see or feel either the lice or the egg cases (nits). After infection, the female lice produce eggs, which they attach to hairs at the rate of three a day for about a week. These eggs hatch in about seven days and the new lice begin to mate and produce eggs after approximately two weeks. With numbers like these, it is possible to have a severe infestation of lice in a matter of weeks.

What Should I Do If I Think I Have It?
By examining your pubic area with a hand mirror, you should be able to see nits or lice. If you are unsure, visit a doctor or clinician who will visually inspect the area.

How Do I Get Rid of It?
Use a prescription or over-the-counter cream, lotion or shampoo, such as Kwell, RID, Nix, to first kill, and then comb the lice and eggs from the afflicted area. Since lice can live for over 24 hours once they leave the body, all clothes, linens, combs and other personal articles must be washed or treated.

What Happens If I Don't Treat It?
Complications from untreated lice infections are uncommon; however, in certain parts of the world, lice can carry various forms of disease.

Who Should I Tell?
If you have lice, you should tell any current or very recent partners (i.e., people you had contact with over the last month). Once the infestation has been successfully treated, you do not need to tell future partners.