Peer Health

Pediculosis (Pubic Lice, Crabs) and Scabies

Crabs is caused by small, grayish white lice which infest the pubic and axillary hair. Their eggs may be seen attached to the base of the hair. Itching of the pubic area is the main symptom of pediculosis, but since this is probably an allergic reaction to the louse, itching may not always occur.

Scabies is caused by tiny mites which are at most half a millimeter in length and are difficult to see. Scabies can, however, be reliably diagnosed by a physician. Scabies usually infest areas between the fingers and toes, wrists, elbows, armpits, buttocks, breasts, genitals, and other areas of contact. Small red bumps or tiny lines (burrows) may appear.

Treatment is by commercially available lotions such as Kwell or Gamene, which you apply following a bath or shower. To avoid re-infestation, all clothing and bedding should be washed in very hot water or dry cleaned, and all sex partners should be treated.