Pubic Lice (Crabs)

What is it?

Pubic lice are found in pubic hair and are similar to head lice. They can also be found in facial hair, armpit hair, chest and back hair, or eyebrows. Pubic lice don’t carry infections but cause itching. People can scratch their skin a lot which can cause sores, scabbing, and skin infections. These sores could make it easier for someone to get a different STI.

How can someone get it?

People can get pubic lice from skin-to-skin touching while engaging in sexual activity with someone who has them. They can also be spread by sharing clothing or a bed with someone who has pubic lice.

How can it be prevented?

To prevent pubic lice avoid sexual touching or sharing clothing and bedding with someone who has pubic lice.

Some ways pubic lice can be prevented are

  • using condomsinternal condoms, or dental dams as a barrier between the bodies;

  • not having sex or being abstinent;

  • getting tested regularly, especially with new sexual partners, to know your status;

  • talking openly, honestly, and without judgment with sexual partners about STIs;

  • learning how to care of your health.


People might be able to tell that they have pubic lice if they

  • Have itching in their genital area.

  • Can see crawling lice or eggs.

  • See blood spots in underwear.

Who should get tested?

If someone notices any of these symptoms or signs, they should get checked out by a medical provider.

How is it tested?

A medical provider decides that someone has pubic lice based on examining the person.

How is it treated?

Pubic lice are treated with a medicated lotion that kills the lice. There are both prescription and non-prescription treatments. It is important to follow the directions to make sure it works.
Washing clothing and bedding also is needed to get rid of pubic lice that may be there.

Where to get checked?

If you are in Pueblo, Colorado, contact the Family Planning Clinic from Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment.

English: Call (719) 583-4380. Monday to Friday 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM.
Español: Llama (719) 583-4376. Lunes a viernes 8:00 AM a 4:30 PM. 

If you are somewhere else in the United States you can find other resources here.

Go Ask Tara

Go Ask Tara is on a mission to provide sex education and help the youth of Colorado prevent pregnancy and STIs.