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Pubic Lice

The facts on crabs

Pubic lice, also called crab lice or crabs, are parasitic insects which typically infest the hair surrounding human genitalia. Crab lice can, however, also thrive in other areas of the body with hair, including the armpits and eyelashes. Humans and gorillas are the only species known to host crabs.

Transmission and Symptoms of Crabs

Genital crabs are transmitted through close interpersonal contact. Because they prefer to inhabit pubic zones in humans, sexual intercourse is the most common method of transmission. However, pubic lice can also spread through shared beds, shared towels and shared clothing.

The primary symptom of STD crabs is a persistent, burning itchy feeling in the genital region. Many people who contract genital crabs say the itching is worse at night. If the crab lice spread to other hair-covered parts of the body, so too will the itching.

Pubic Lice Treatment Recommendations

The primary treatment for pubic lice is to apply a prescription cream rinse to the affected area. Your doctor will prescribe a pyrethrin-based compound of the necessary strength. Pyrethrins are extremely effective insecticides.

The treatment agent your doctor prescribes should be applied to the affected area and left to sit for a specified period of time, usually 10 to 15 minutes. Then, rinse the areas clean and repeat as often as directed.

Some people shave the hair off the affected areas, or groom it carefully using a fine comb. This can be done to remove dead crab lice and nits, though it is not a necessary step in most treatment regimens.

Once you've ridded yourself of the parasitic insects, you'll have to perform some follow-up care to prevent subsequent reinfections of yourself and your family members. First, all linens and clothing that you wore while the infection was active must be thoroughly washed in hot water. The temperature of the water must be at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit. This will kill any crab lice that may still be alive and lingering on the fabric. Anything that cannot be washed in the laundry can be dry-cleaned or, alternately, stored in a tightly sealed plastic bag for a period of at least two weeks.

Keep in mind that it's common for people with one sexually transmitted infection to have others as well. While it is possible to self-treat a case of crabs successfully, you should always follow up with your doctor and ask for an STD test to rule out other infections.

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