Mens Health Clinics

Men's Clinic

Pubic Lice

Pubic lice, also known as crabs – are tiny parasitic insects that live on coarse human body hair, such as pubic hair (the hair around your genitals).

lice need human blood to survive, so they will only leave the body to move from one person to another. They crawl from hair to hair, they can’t fly or jump.

How do you get pubic lice?

any form of lice can be passed on easily and you can get them if you:

  • Are in close contact with the body of someone who has lice – most commonly sexual contact, including vaginal, anal or oral sex.
  • Hug and kiss someone who has lice.
  • Share clothes, towels and bedding – although this is much less common. 

 HIV and sexual health.

  • lice don’t carry other diseases, and although they feed on blood, pubic lice cannot pass on HIV or other STIs.

If you’re worried about HIV infection, find out everything you need to know in our HIV Transmission and Prevention section

What do symptoms look like?

It can be several weeks before any symptoms appear.

Symptoms for women and men include:

  • itching – the most common symptom – and usually worse at night
  • inflammation and irritation caused by scratching 
  • black powder in your underwear 
  • blue spots or small spots of blood on your skin, such as on your thighs or lower abdomen (caused by lice bites).

Can I get tested for lice?

Yes –  lice are usually easy to diagnose. At Mens Health Clinics situated at 132 Fox Street, Marshalltown, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa, We can examine you to look for signs of the lice or their eggs.

Whether you can see the lice and their eggs or not, don’t have sex or close body contact with other people until you and your current sexual partner/s have finished your treatment and have been checked to make sure the lice have gone.

Complications caused by lice

Occasionally, a pubic infestation can lead to minor complications, such as skin or eye problems.

  • Scratching can lead to an infection such as impetigo (a bacterial skin infection) or furunculosis (boils on the skin).
  • Eye infections, such as conjunctivitis, and eye inflammation, such as blepharitis, can sometimes develop if your eyelashes have been infested .
  • Untreated, long-standing infestations can cause you to feel generally unwell.


Adult pubic lice are 1.1–1.8 mm in length. Pubic lice typically are found attached to hair in the pubic area but sometimes are found on coarse hair elsewhere on the body (for example, eyebrows, eyelashes, beard, mustache, chest, armpits, etc.).

Pubic lice infestations (pthiriasis) are usually spread through sexual contact. Dogs, cats, and other pets do not play a role in the transmission of human pubic lice.

Pubic lice, also known as crabs, are tiny insects that live on your pubic hair, near the genitals. You can get genital crabs through close contact, such as sex. Crabs can cause intense itching,


pubic lice

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Pubic Lice

Pubic lice, also known as crabs, are very small insects that infest your genital area and are often smaller than the body and head lice.

Pubic lice infestations are more common among people who have sexually transmitted infections.

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