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Pubic Lice


Pubic lice, or crabs, are tiny bugs that live and feed on blood in your genital area. They are tan, gray, or brown, and are about the size of a sesame seed. They lay eggs (nits) and attach the eggs to body hair.


Avoid contact with others:

Do not have close body contact with anyone until all your lice are gone. Tell sex partners and anyone who has shared your clothes or bed about the lice.

Comb out lice:

Use a fine-tooth comb to remove lice and eggs. Do this once a day until all lice and eggs are gone.

Wash clothes and bedding:

Wash all clothes, towels, and sheets in hot, soapy water. Dry them on the hot cycle for at least 20 minutes. Items that cannot be washed or dry cleaned should be sealed in an airtight plastic bag for 2 weeks. Do not share towels or sheets with others.


  • Lice medicine: These are used to kill pubic lice. You can buy lice shampoo, lotion, or cream without a doctor's order. Apply these medicines to your body. Use them as directed. Throw away all lice medicine that you do not use. Keep it away from your eyes.

  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Contact your primary healthcare provider if:

  • Your pubic lice do not go away, even after treatment.

  • The lice bites become filled with pus or crusty, or your skin has a bad smell.

  • Your skin burns, stings, swells, or is numb after you use lice medicine.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • You are dizzy or have nausea and vomiting after you use lice medicine.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.