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Diseases & Topics

Pthirus pubis (Crabs)

Pthirus pubis (formerly known as Pediculus pubis) is an infestation of the pubic hair with the crab louse, a small parasitic insect that feeds on human blood. People usually get pubic lice, or "crabs", during close person-to-person contact associated with sex, but they can also get them through physical contact with contaminated objects such as toilet seats, sheets and blankets.

People usually seek medical attention because of itching or because they notice lice or nits on their pubic hair. Pubic lice may also be found on coarse hair in other places on the body such as the eyebrows, eyelashes, beard and chest hair. Treatment is available and recent sexual contacts should be treated as well. Bedding and clothing should be decontaminated by dry cleaning or by machine-washing and drying using the hot cycle.

People with pubic lice should also be evaluated for other sexually transmitted diseases.

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