What it is

Pubic lice are small insects that live in pubic and body hair. You might have heard them referred to as ‘crabs’.

How you get it

Pubic lice are spread through close body contact (like sex), and can even be spread through bedding, towels etc. that have been used by an infected person. Pubic lice are very easily spread and there is no real protection. Wearing a condom during sexual intercourse will not protect you from pubic lice. But this is not an excuse to not use a condom as they protect you from all the other STDs!

The symptoms

You usually can’t see the lice (you’ll probably need a microscope for that), but you can usually feel them. You will usually feel very itchy all around your pubic area. This is because of an allergic reaction to the lice bites. You may also notice tiny blood spots on your undies since the lice bite the skin and draw blood. Pubic lice like to live in other coarse body hair such as leg hair, armpit hair and even eyelashes and eyebrows. But pubic lice prefer to live in the pubic hair – scratching of the pubic region can transfer the lice to these other regions of the body.


A simple application of lotion will usually kill the lice. Your doctor will be able to tell if you have them, and what you need to do.

The advice provided in this material is general in nature and is not intended as medical advice. If you need medical advice, please consult your health care professional.

More info about SEXUAL HEALTH