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Pubic lice are tiny bugs that usually live in your pubic area. Sometimes they're also found on facial hair, eyelashes, eyebrows, armpits, chest hair, and the scalp.
They're different than the kind of lice that you can get on your head or body. Pubic lice are also called "crabs" because they look like tiny crabs. Millions of people get pubic lice every year. It doesn't mean you're not clean.
Lice eggs (nits) are often easier to see than live lice. They look like tiny yellow or white dots attached to the pubic hair, close to the skin. Nits can look like dandruff. But you can't pick them off with your fingernail or brush them away.
Pubic lice are very contagious. That means they can easily spread from one person to another. Pubic lice are usually spread through sexual contact. But sometimes they can spread through shared clothes, bedding, or towels. It's rare to get pubic lice from a toilet seat or other smooth surface. That's because lice can't live away from a human body for very long.
Pubic lice can be uncomfortable and inconvenient, but they're not dangerous. They may cause itching and marks around the pubic area or other areas where they are found.
You can learn how to treat them at home. You can treat lice and their eggs with prescription or over-the-counter medicines. After treatment, your skin may still itch for a week or more. This is because of your body's reaction to the lice.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
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Current as of: February 26, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & John Pope MD - Pediatrics & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.
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