Crabs (Pubic Lice) Treatment & Prevention

Crabs are the common name for pubic lice, which are tiny flat-bodied and wingless insects, which live on the skin. They are also called “crabs” because they have “claws” that are used to cling to the hair of a person. They are light brown and are of the size of a pinhead. They feed on the blood of the host organism, but can live up to 24 hours, without consuming blood. Pubic lice infect hairy parts of the body, especially around pubic hair. Small scabs appear at first. Their eggs can be seen in the hair near the skin in the form of small white dots stuck to the hair. The incubation period of eggs is six to eight days.

Anyone can get pubic lice. Usually, though not always, it is transmitted through sexual contact. They can also be transmitted through close personal contact or by using sheets, unwashed clothing or towels of an infected person.

Treatment of Pubic Lice

Pubic lice are treated with creams, lotions, special shampoos that can be purchased at a pharmacy. The pharmacist can recommend the brand. There are pubic lice medicines sold by prescription. It may be necessary to apply these medications more than once. Sometimes, the entire course of the treatment has to be repeated. Even after completing the treatment can be itchy for a while. Sometimes they are difficult to remove with common over the counter medicines and one might need to use certain chemicals with the consultation of a doctor.


If you have pubic lice, avoid close physical contact with others prior to treatment, to prevent passing it to others. Be sure to wash your clothes and linens in hot water or dry clean them and iron them with a hot iron. This will kill the insects and their eggs.

Often, it is suggested that shaving the pubic hair is the best way to prevent occurrence of pubic lice or crabs.