Lice Infestations

February 23, 2010

Remember Your College Days? Pubic Lice

Crabs, Pediculosis pubis, otherwise known as pubic lice are the young adult version of head lice in little kids. They were often found on university campuses in abundance and are categorized as a sexually transmitted disease because they are transmitted by intimate contact. It is possible to contract pubic lice from bedding, towels, or clothing that has been infested, but the lice don't live very long away from a human host, so the contact with the linen or clothing has to be very soon after an infected person used them.

Pubic Lice Looks Just Like A Miniature Crab

Pubic lice are commonly called crabs, and there's a very good reason for this. When seen under a microscope, these little critters look remarkably like a crab. They are minute, wingless, insects that latch onto the pubic hairs (and they can also hang onto eyelashes), and propagate in the warmth of the genital area. The female lays her eggs at the base of the hair shaft and when the eggs hatch, the larvae get their nourishment from the host's blood. The adult lice feed off the blood as well, biting the flesh to release the blood. All of this causes red bumps that itch. Often a person with public lice has abrasions and marks from scratching hard to relieve the itching.

Pubic Lice Risk Factors And When To See A Doctor

People who are most at risk for pubic lice are primarily sexually active adolescents, which is where the condition is most commonly seen today. If a person has multiple sexual partners or has sex with someone who is infested with crabs, the chance of getting them is about 90 percent positive. Often, crabs can be dealt with using self-care methods, which include using a non-prescription shampoo that is specially formulated to kill lice. However, if this doesn't work, a visit to the doctor is necessary. The doctor can prescribe a stronger shampoo than the over-the-counter variety. A doctor should be seen if a woman contracts pubic lice and is pregnant, or if an infection is present as a result of scratching and creating abrasions.

While an infestation of crabs can usually be taken care of without serious problems ensuing, an infestation can lead to complications in some cases. The main complications that arise from crab infestation are inflammatory skin reactions that result in maculae ceruleae (bumps that are flat and gray-blue in color), or secondary infections that are caused by irritation to the skin from scratching.

Ask Questions About STDs

If a person finds that medical treatment is necessary, it is worthwhile to ask some questions regarding treatment and follow-up. It is good to know if there are generic alternatives to the prescription medications (they cost less) and how to treat the condition at home. Find out how to rid your household items of pubic lice. Know how long to avoid sexual contact and know what measures to take to avoid re-infestation or causing an infestation in someone else. It is obvious that sexual activity should be curtailed until treatment is established and completed. Inform the appropriate people of the situation so they can take action to be diagnosed and treated themselves.

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