Published on March 8, 2024 at 8:00 / Updated on March 26, 2024 at 8:00

What are pubic lice?

Pubic lice, also known as crabs, are tiny insects that live in warm, hairy parts of the body. They are mainly found in the pubic and perianal areas, but can also live in the eyebrows, eyelashes, chest hair, facial hair and armpit hair.

Female lice lay their eggs (nits) at the base of the hair shaft. Pubic lice and nits cannot survive if separated from their human host for more than 24 hours and 8 days respectively.

What do pubic lice look like?

Pubic lice are different from head lice. Pubic lice are small insects that look like crabs.

A pubic louse measures 2 to 3 mm, has a broad body and powerful legs that look like claws.

It is grey in color but turn reddish-brown after it has fed on human blood.


Pubic lice are primarily transmitted through sexual contact. Transmission however, is also possible through infested objects such as clothing and bedding.


Pubic lice can be uncomfortable, but rarely pose a serious health risk. Their bites usually leave small bluish marks on the skin. Those with pubic lice will experience itching which often worsens at night. Some individuals may develop a severe allergic reaction to the bites.


The treatment consists of the application to the affected areas of pediculicide (treatment against lice), which are available in pharmacies without prescription. It is important to follow the pharmacist's directions and recommendations.

In addition to the treatment, it is important to wash clothing and bedding in very hot water or to have them dry cleaned. Objects that are difficult to wash can be placed in hermetically sealed bags for a minimum of 2 weeks. A thorough vacuuming of the house is also recommended.

For more information, do not hesitate to speak to your pharmacist.
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