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Pubic Lice

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

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. Pubic lice are spread through direct contact. For example, sharing clothing or bedding with someone who has lice. You can also get lice if you have sex with someone who has lice.

DISCHARGE INSTRUCTIONS:

Return to the emergency department if:

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

Contact your 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.

Medicines:

  • Lice medicine is used to kill pubic lice and is available without a doctor's order. Lice medicine usually comes as a lotion or cream. Use it as directed. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, ask your healthcare provider before you apply lice medicine. You may need to apply the medicine to hair on your chest, underarms, and groin. Throw away all lice medicine that you do not use. Keep it away from your eyes. Other medicines may also be given to decrease itching and inflammation.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him of her 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.

Manage your pubic lice:

  • Comb out lice with a fine tooth comb. This will remove the lice and eggs. Do this once a day until all lice and eggs are gone.
  • Wash all clothes, towels, and bedding 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 and sheets with others. Vacuum furniture, rugs, carpets, car seats, or other fabrics.

Prevent the spread of pubic lice:

  • Tell sexual partners about your pubic lice so they can also be screened and treated. Limit the number of sexual partners. Shaving pubic hair and using condoms does not prevent the spread of pubic lice.
  • Do not have close body contact with anyone until all your lice are gone.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

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

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Pubic Lice (Aftercare Instructions)

Micromedex® Care Notes

Symptoms and treatments

Mayo Clinic Reference

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