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Crab lice

Lice feed on human blood. There are three types: head lice, which are common in children; clothing lice – sometimes called body lice – which are common in vagrants, live in clothing and only visit the skin to feed; and crab or pubic lice.

How crab lice (pubic lice) are caught

Lice cannot jump, hop, fly or swim. Crab lice probably cannot be caught from lavatory seats or even from bedclothes, but this is not 100% certain. They probably cannot survive for more than 24 hours away from a person. They are transmitted by close body contact, during which they are able to transfer their grip from one person’s hair to that of the other before letting go entirely from the first person. Sexual contact is their ideal situation.

Where crab lice live

Crab lice cannot live in hair that is too dense, so they will not colonize the hair of the scalp (except at the hairline). However, they will live happily on armpit hair, eyebrows, eyelashes, chest hair and upper thigh hair as well as pubic hair.

Written by: Dr Margaret Stearn
Edited by: Dr Margaret Stearn
Last updated: Tuesday, October 4th 2011


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Comments on this article

Posted by Rosha on 23/10/2014 at 05:00

I notice there is a skin tags near my vulva. it's started small, lately it's getting a bit bigger and longer..Sometimes I have to wash it super gentle if not it will bleeds easily. Am concern it possible cancer..? It usually look wet and stained my panties at time. Looking almost like super small penis at 1cm length. I had Pap smear test last year, everything seem good. Should I be worry.....??

Posted by Optional on 09/11/2010 at 11:14, United Kingdom

my pubes have little pieces of white stuff after i shower, they look like they are some sort of dandruff but when i feel them they are not, does this mean i have lice?


View what people have said about crab lice

Fascinating facts

The French used to call crab lice 'papillons d'amour', which means 'butterflies of love'

Lice have been found on 4000-year-old mummies, and in archaeological remains from Roman and medieval Britain

About 1 in 50 adults probably has pubic lice (Int J Environ Res Pub Health 2009;6:592-600)

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