Pubic lice - Symptom
Pediculosis - pubic lice; Lice - pubic; Crabs
Almost anyone with pubic lice will have itching in the area covered by pubic hair (it often gets worse at night). This itching may start soon after getting infected with lice, or it may not start for up to 2 - 4 weeks after contact.
- Skin reaction that is bluish-gray in color
- Sores (lesions) in the genital area due to bites and scratching
Signs and tests:
An examination of the outer genital area shows small gray-white oval eggs (nits) attached to the hair shaft. It may also reveal adult lice. The health care provider might also see scratch marks or signs of an infection, such as impetigo.
Because pubic lice may cause an eye infection (blepharitis) in young children, their eyelashes should be examined for evidence of lice with a high-powered magnifying glass.
Adult lice may be easily identified under the microscope. Their crab-like appearance is the reason that pubic lice are referred to as "the crabs."
Teenagers with pubic lice may need to be tested for other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
- Reviewed last on: 10/4/2010
- Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa:Mosby Elsevier;2009: pp 590-594.
Diaz JH. Lice (pediculosis). In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R. Mendell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa:Churchill Livingstone Elsevier;2009:chap 293.
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