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Gynaecologic Problems: Pubic Lice


Pubic lice, Pthirus pubis , or crabs , are parasitic insects generally found in the genital area, although they may also be occasionally found on other coarse body hair (e.g. legs, armpits, moustache, beard, eyebrows) and are usually spread through sexual contact. However, rarely, infestation can be spread through contact with an infested person's bed linens, towels, or clothes. A common misbelief is that infestation can be spread by sitting on a toilet seat. Infection is common and found worldwide.
Lice found on the head are not pubic lice, they are head lice. Animals to not get, nor do they spread pubic lice.

Symptom and Signs

Itching in the genital area. Nits (lice eggs) or crawling lice may be seen.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis is usually made by closely looking through pubic hair for nits , nymphs , or adults (the 3 life stages of pubic lice). Finding a nymph or adult may be difficult; there are usually few of them and they can move quickly away from light. If crawling lice are not seen, finding nits confirms that a person is infested and should be treated. Diagnosis should be made by a health care provider if you are unsure about infestation or if treatment is not successful.
Concerning treatment, a 1% permethrin or pyrethrin lice shampoo, also called pediculicide is recommended to treat pubic lice. A prescription medication, called Lindane (1%) is also available. However, Lindane is not recommended for pregnant or nursing women or for children less than 2 years old.

The information in this page is presented in summarised form and has been taken from the following source(s):
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Division of Parasitic Diseases:

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Contact Last modified: Jun 25 2002