Pubic Lice and Scabies
WHAT ARE THEY?
Also called "crabs," pubic lice are parasitic insects found in the genital area of humans. Scabies is an infestation of the skin with the microscopic mite.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
For pubic lice:
- Itching in the genital area
- Visible nits (lice eggs) or crawling lice
- Pimple-like irritations, burrows or rash of the skin, especially the webbing between the fingers; the skin folds on the wrist, elbow, or knee; the penis, the breast, or shoulder blades.
- Intense itching, especially at night and over most of the body.
- Sores on the body caused by scratching. These sores can sometimes become infected with bacteria.
WHY SHOULD I CARE?
Pubic lice and scabies are both very contagious. Infestations are uncomfortable. Without treatment, pubic lice and scabies will not go away.
HOW DO I GET THEM?
Pubic lice are usually spread through sexual contact. Rarely, they can be spread through contact with an infested person's bed linens, towels, or clothes.
Scabies are transferred by direct, prolonged, skin-to-skin contact with a person already infested with scabies. Contact must be prolonged (a quick handshake or hug will usually not spread infestation). Infestation is easily spread to sexual partners and household members. Infestation may also occur by sharing clothing, towels, and bedding.
WHO IS AT RISK?
Pubic lice and scabies affect people from all walks of life. Having them is not an indicator of hygiene or economic status. Pubic lice infection in a young child or teenager may indicate sexual activity or sexual abuse. People with weakened immune systems and the elderly are at risk for a more severe form of scabies, called Norwegian or crusted scabies.
HOW DO I GET RID OF PUBIC LICE OR SCABIES?
Several lotions are available to treat either pubic lice or scabies. Always follow the directions provided by your physician or the directions on the package insert. All clothes, bedding, and towels used by the infested person 2 days before treatment should be washed in hot water; dry in a hot dryer.