Pubic lice, commonly called crabs, are tiny insects found in your genital area. They are a different type of louse from head lice and body lice. Measuring 1/16 inch (1.6 millimeters) or less, pubic lice received their nickname because their bodies resemble sea crabs.
The most common way to acquire pubic lice is through sexual intercourse. In children, pubic lice may be found in the eyebrows or eyelashes and can be a sign of sexual abuse. However, children can sometimes catch pubic lice from heavily infested parents simply by sharing a communal bed.
Pubic lice feed on your blood, and their bites can cause severe itching. Treatment includes applying over-the-counter creams and lotions that kill the parasites and their eggs.
Dec. 14, 2012
- Parasites: Lice. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/lice/index.html. Accessed Aug. 24, 2012.
- Wolff K, et al. Fitzpatrick's Color Atlas and Synopsis of Clinical Dermatology. 6th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2009. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=5196533. Accessed Aug. 24, 2012.
- Mai DL, et al. Infestation of the eyelashes with Phthirus pubis. Canadian Medical Association Journal. 2010;4:182.
- Habif TP. Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy. 5th ed. Edinburgh, U.K.; New York, N.Y.: Mosby Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-7234-3541-9..X0001-6--TOP&isbn=978-0-7234-3541-9&uniqId=230100505-57. Accessed Aug. 24, 2012.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.