Pubic lice

    • Brief

    • Pubic lice are tiny insects that feed on blood and that live on the pubic hair that covers your private parts. They spread easily from person to person through sexual contact and the shared of clothing, towels and bedsheets, and cause itching and red spots.

      A pubic lice infestation cannot be prevented with the use of condoms since they do not cover the pubic hair.

      There are over-the-counter self-care treatments available that remove the lice and their eggs.

    • What are the symptoms?

    • The most common symptom of pubic lice is itching, which may start some five days after you become infected. Most people experience more intense itching at night.

      Other symptoms include:

      • Small red spots or bumps on the skin of the affected area.
      • A dark brown or black powder (lice droppings) on the skin or underwear.
      • Moderate fever.
      • Lack of energy.
      • Irritability.
      • Excessive itching can cause wounds that can get infected with bacteria.
    • What are the causes?

    • Pubic lice are tiny insects called phthirus pubis. If you come into contact with these lice, through sexual contacts or through sharing of clothes, towels or bedsheets, you can become infected.

    • What are the things that put you at risk?

    • The following can put you ate risk of getting pubic lice:

      • Having sex with a person who has pubic lice.
      • Having sex with more than one partner.
      • Sharing of towels, bedding or clothing with an infected person.
    • When to visit a doctor?

    • Pubic lice infestation requires treatment and you must seek medical advice if:

      • You have used over-the-counter medication and it has not killed the lice.
      • You have a lice infestation while you are pregnant.
      • You have a bacterial infection from the itchy skin.
      • You are under the age of 18.
    • How to prevent?

      • You can prevent a pubic lice infestation by washing your under clothes, towels and bedding regularly and by not sharing any of these with anyone else.
      • Avoid having sex with anyone who has pubic lice or shows the symptoms of having pubic lice. Limiting the number of sexual partners also helps to reduce you chances of an infestation.
      • Using condoms does not prevent the spread of pubic lice.
    • How to manage and treat?

    • Self-care tips:

      The following are things you can do you yourself when you have pubic lice:

      • Decontaminate clothes, beddings and surfaces in your home using permethrin.
      • Use a 1% permethrin lotion or cream to remove the lice from your body. You can buy these at pharmacies.
      • Even after treatment, lice eggs (nits) may remain attached to your hair. You can remove leftover nits with tweezers or a special nit comb.
      • If people in your household share clothes or towels, prevent reinfection by treating everybody at the same time.

      Treatment options:

      • Your healthcare provider can recommend malathion (ovide) lotion or ivermectin (stromectol) tablets.
      • Even if the lice appear to have gone (they are difficult to see because they are very small), continue treatment for the duration recommended by your healthcare provider.
    • Kulawa cares

    • The first treatment will kill the lice, but eggs may remain. This means lice may hatch and you may find yourself with a new infestation. Following up with treatment after 7 days will ensure that any lice are killed before they lay more eggs.