Things You Are Afraid to Ask Your Pharmacist: Pubic Lice Edition

What are pubic lice and why are they called crabs?

Pubic lice are parasitic insects that live in human pubic hair. They look different from head lice because they are a different species and tend to be smaller in size. Pubic lice have two larger claws at the front of their body, which makes them look like miniature crabs.

Is getting pubic lice related to personal hygiene?

No, pubic lice can easily transfer from an infected person to a clean person when close contact is involved. Pubic lice are usually spread through sexual contact. It is important to note that wearing a condom does not protect against pubic lice because they live on the pubic hair and the condom does not create a barrier on that part of the body.

Can you really get pubic lice from a toilet seat?

This is extremely unlikely because pubic lice don’t usually leave their host human for a foreign environment (in this case, a toilet seat). Less commonly, an individual can contract lice from the towel, blanket, or clothes of an infested person. These types of personal items should be washed after treatment has begun to avoid reinfestation.

Can you really get pubic lice in your eyelashes?

While pubic lice generally stay in the genital region, they can live in other places with course hair such as beards, armpits, brows, and eyelashes. These areas tend to be more sensitive and most lice medications have specific products and instructions for how to treat areas other than the genitals. Occasionally, just a lice comb can be used on these areas since there is often less hair found there.

Will taking a bath kill pubic lice?

No, pubic lice can survive under water for hours. In addition, their eggs will be unaffected by water as their shell protects them. Even if many of the lice do drown, their eggs will eventually hatch and reinfestation will occur.

Do I need to tell my sexual partner(s) that I contracted lice?

Yes, it is important to inform anyone who you had close intimate or sexual contact with that they may need to treat themselves for pubic lice. This helps decrease the spread of lice and allows people to treat themselves before they have a severe infestation. 

Where to Buy

Click to see which stores carry our lice treatment products.

Simple Tips for Prevention

  • Teach Good Habits. Personal belongings such as brushes, hats, and towels can pass lice. So don't share.
  • Be Aware of Shared Spaces. Keep personal items (hats, coats, etc) out of common areas.  
  • Avoid Outbreaks. If you know of an outbreak, avoid locations where head-to-head contact would occur like sporting activities.