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Pubic lice are tiny parasites that live on the skin and hair of the genitals. They are passed from one person to another during intimate contact. Female lice lay eggs in the pubic hair which hatch in six to ten days. The discarded eggs they leave behind are called nits.
Pubic lice are very common, impacting around 3 million Americans every year.
Pubic lice are colloquially called crabs.
Anyone can get pubic lice if they come into contact with someone infected with the parasite. Usually, they’re transmitted through sexual contact, but it’s possible to catch pubic lice wearing an infected person’s clothes or using their towels, for example. People with poor hygiene are at no greater risk of catching pubic lice.
Pubic lice are not dangerous, but they can be frustrating as they make the genitals and anus itch. They may also make their host feel feverish, irritable, or run down. People with pubic lice can usually see clumps of lice eggs in their pubic hair and sometimes spots of blood from lice bites in their underwear. Your regular doctor or staff at any health clinic or hospital can check whether you have pubic lice if you’re unsure.
Thankfully, pubic lice are easy to get rid of with medication. This usually comes in the form of a shampoo, gel, foam, or liquid. You can get this medication from any drugstore without a prescription. If the problem doesn’t resolve itself, you can get stronger medication with a doctor’s prescription.