Picture of Crabs (Pubic Lice)

If you go to a sexual health clinic or GP surgery because you think you have pubic lice, a doctor or nurse will check your hair for lice.

If they think you might have caught the lice during sex, they may ask about your sexual partners. They may also suggest getting tested for any sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

It’s usually easy to get rid of them with over-the-counter medicines. It’s a good idea to treat pubic lice, because if you don’t get rid of them you can end up with:

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Pubic lice

Crabs STD (Pubic lice) detailed Pictures & Images

They may check your pubic hair around your penis or vagina and any other areas that could be affected, such as your armpits, chest or eyelashes.

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Treatment for pubic lice

Page last reviewed: 24 May 2022
Next review due: 24 May 2025

Any current or recent sexual partners should also be treated, even if they do not have symptoms.

What are the symptoms of pubic lice (crabs)

Pubic Lice

They can be hard to spot, but sometimes you may be able to see them in your hair.

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Non-urgent advice: Go to a sexual health clinic or see a GP if:

Pubic lice are very small (2mm long) and grey-brown in colour.

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Pediculus Pubis | Department of Dermatology

Other symptoms of pubic lice include:

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What happens at your appointment

They most often live on pubic hair around the penis or vagina, but can also be found in hair on the chest, armpits, face and eyelashes. They do not affect hair on the head.

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Picture of Crabs (Pubic Lice)

Crabs STD (Pubic lice) detailed Pictures & Images

If you’re sure you have pubic lice, you may be able to get treatment from a pharmacist.

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How to stop pubic lice spreading

Pubic lice will not go away without treatment.

Pubic lice treatments are easy to use and come in gels, shampoos, liquids, and foam. Most are sold over-the-counter in drugstores, so you can buy them without getting a prescription from a nurse or doctor. However, speak to a nurse or doctor if your pubic lice won’t go away after multiple treatments, if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, or have any rashes or severe irritation from scratching.

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