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Pubic lice, often called crabs, are tiny parasitic insects that live on human body hair, such as pubic hair.

The most common symptoms

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  • Itching, irritation and inflammation in the affected areas.
    Itching, irritation and inflammation in the affected areas.

    Itching, irritation and inflammation in the affected areas.

  • Sky-blue spots or very tiny specks of blood on the skin.
    Sky-blue spots or very tiny specks of blood on the skin.

    Sky-blue spots or very tiny specks of blood on the skin.

Symptoms

Men and women -

  • Itching, irritation and inflammation in the affected areas,
  • Black powdery droppings from the lice in your underwear,
  • Brown eggs on pubic hair or other body hair,
  • Sky-blue spots or very tiny specks of blood on the skin.

It can take several weeks after coming into contact with pubic lice before signs and symptoms appear, so you know what you have to do to stop becoming a victim of these little horrors

What does a check-up/test involve?

Pubic lice is often diagnosed by how it looks so be prepared to drop your pants so the doctor or nurse can take a look at the infection and decide on what treatment is best for you.

Treatment

Treating crabs involves using a special cream, lotion or shampoo which can be purchased over the counter from a pharmacy. To be effective, treatment needs to be repeated after three to seven days.

You should wash your clothing, bedding and towels in a washing machine on a very hot cycle (50°C or higher) to kill the lice and avoid re-infection. Even after successful treatment, itching may continue for a few days. There may be nits in your body hair after treatment but these can be removed with a special comb that you can get over the counter from a pharmacy.

If left untreated?

If left untreated, you can develop infections from scratching. It can also cause your skin to change colour and become scaly and scarred.