Crabs are small insects called lice. Unlike head lice that live in the hair on your head, crabs are pubic lice and live in your pubic hair. They attach themselves to the hair and to the skin in the public area.
How Common Are Crabs?
Pubic lice are extremely common. In fact, millions of people get crabs every year.
How Can You Get Crabs?
When you have sex with someone who has crabs, it’s very easy to get them. In rare cases, you can get crabs from dirty sheets, clothes, furniture or even a toilet seat that someone with crabs recently used. If you and a partner both have crabs and only one of you is treated, it’s very easy for the other to get crabs, even after treatment.
What Are the Symptoms of Crabs?
You might not experience symptoms for several days after having contracted crabs. However, after about five days, you’ll have intense itching in your genital area and your ass. You may experience a mild fever and be slightly irritated. Crabs lay eggs and multiply rapidly, and as the number of crabs increases, so will the intensity of the itching.
How Do I Know If I Have Crabs?
You’ll probably notice white egg sacs, called nits, and you might even see the insects in your public area. Take a magnifying glass and look for tiny, pale gray crabs and small clumps of white insect eggs near the roots of your hair. They might start spreading to other areas, including your underarm hair, eyelashes and eyebrows.
Can Crabs Be Treated?
Yes. There are even over-the-counter medicines available at the drug store that you can buy without a prescription. NIX and Rid are two popular brands of body lice treatment.
The medicine comes in a liquid form that you apply to your entire body. After about 15 minutes, you slowly add water, create a lather and shampoo your body with the medicine. Then you wash and shower thoroughly. You might need to comb your pubic hair with a small comb to remove any eggs that remain and could potentially hatch to reinfect you. You should also thoroughly was all your bedding, wash or dry clean all your clothes that might have been exposed and vacuum your home. Everyone who was exposed should be treated at the same time to avoid passing crabs back and forth.
While it’s unusual that you would need something stronger than the over-the-counter medicine, your doctor can prescribe something for you.
Know Your Status!
If you have crabs, it’s conceivable that you have been exposed to other sexually-transmitted diseases. Follow our guide to get a truly anonymous STD test and know your status!