Pubic lice, commonly known as crabs, are very tiny insects found in the pubic hair of the genital region of adults. Because these parasites are transmitted via sexual contact, they are not commonly found in children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pubic lice in the eyebrows and eyelashes of children can indicate sexual abuse. Pubic lice can also be transmitted by sharing towels or bed linens with a person who is already infected.
Pubic lice are not to be confused with the lice found in hair on the head, which are known as head lice. Two of the most common symptoms of pubic lice are seeing shells from lice eggs in the pubic hair and uncomfortable itching in the genital area.
Some of the most effective treatments for eliminating pubic lice include medication that contains 1% permethrin and a mousse blending piperonyl butoxide and pyrethrins. Both lotion and mousse are available as over-the-counter medications. They are easily applied to genital hair and should be used as directed on the medication package and kept out of reach of children.
For people who may not respond well to permethrin, piperonyl butoxide, or pyrethrins to kill pubic lice, a prescription medication called lindane shampoo can be obtained after visiting your family doctor. It should be noted that this treatment option is generally used after all others have been exhausted. The use of lindane as a treatment for pubic lice carries higher risk, however, with a possible negative impact on the human nervous system and brain. A number of patients, such as women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, infants, children, the elderly are advised not to use lindane. You should talk to your doctor before considering this treatment option.
Another prescription medication proven effective in killing public lice and lice eggs is Malathion lotion, which is also known as Ovide. Malathion has not, however, been approved by the FDA for treating pubic lice at the time of this writing.
For best results in killing pubic lice and eggs, it's important to first wash the infected genital area and gently towel dry. Follow the product directions, being careful to thoroughly saturate all infected pubic hair areas. Leave the medication in place for the prescribed amount of time prior to removing any excess lotion or mousse as directed by the instructions. Using fingernails or a fine-tooth comb, remove as many eggs as possible that are still attached to pubic hair shafts. Throw your previous underwear into the hamper to be washed and put on a clean pair of underwear following any lice treatment.
It's important to wash towels, bedding, clothing, or any other material that comes into contact with the body in order to kill any lice or eggs living in these materials. Hot water at temperatures of at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit should be used during the wash cycle, and the materials should be dried in the clothes dryer at the highest heat setting.
Unless otherwise advised, treatment should be repeated within 10 days if symptoms persist or lice and eggs are still observed attached to pubic hairs. Avoid intimate contact with any sexual partners, who should also be informed about the pubic lice infestation and should be encouraged to pursue treatment on their own before resuming any sexual activity with others.