Pubic lice are small parasites that attach to the skin near the genital area. The tiny insects live on coarse human hair in the pubic region and at times on beards but do not appear in the hair on your head. They are also known as crabs as they have two large front arms resembling those of crabs.
HOW DO YOU GET PUBIC LICE?
The most common way for one to get pubic lice is through prolonged physical contact with a carrier, mainly through sexual intercourse according to Mayo Clinic. The lice may also be passed through hugging and kissing as they latch on to a new host from a carrier.
The sharing of clothes, towels and bedding can also be a contributing factor as your body is in direct contact with artifacts from an infected person.
Pubic lice don’t have a long lifespan when away from human hosts and can’t cling onto smooth surfaces. Which makes their transmission through quick casual touching such as handshakes impossible.
HOW CAN I TELL IF I HAVE CRABS?
- When one is infected with pubic lice they can feel an intense itching sensation in affected areas as the crabs bite through the skin. The parasite feeds on human blood.
- Pubic lice are visible to the naked eye, measuring approximately 2 millimeters in length with a tan or greyish look and getting darker when they’re full of blood.
- Dark spots on the skin in the pubic region may indicate where the crabs are living as this may be due to the bite marks they make.
If you’ve had sexual contact with someone who’s had crabs in the past month or think you might have pubic lice, don’t panic! Crabs aren’t as dangerous as they sound as they don’t carry other diseases even though they are regarded as the most contagious sexually transmitted infection. An STI test would be advisable.
How Marie Stopes Can Help You
Marie Stopes offers a range of Sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing and treatment services across South Africa. You will have a confidential consultation with a nurse who will discuss your concerns and recommend tests and treatment.
Please schedule an appointment at your nearest Marie Stopes Centre for more information about our services.