Pubic lice

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Pubic lice are small parasites that are transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, so even during protected sex. There are, however, ways to prevent and treat them.

Pubic lice, also known as crabs, is a parasitic infection transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. You may contract it during sexual relations with an infected person. These minuscule parasites look like little crabs and grab on to human body hair. They are primarily found in the pubic region, but sometimes also on the chest, in the arm pits and in facial hair. In these places they lay eggs that may live for up to 10 days. Pubic lice can survive off the body for 1 to 2 days.



Pubic lice are transmitted through direct (skin-to-skin) or indirect contact (i.e. sharing a towel, bedsheets, or personal hygiene objects, etc.) with an infected person. 


You can contract pubic lice more than once in your lifetime.



According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, a person with pubic lice may observe the following signs:


  • Itchiness in the body’s hairy areas
  • Irritation in the infected area
  • Visible lice and their white eggs
  • Bites that leave blue spots on the skin


If in doubt, contact Info-Santé (811) or get tested.


Testing and Treatment 🔍

Since they are visible to the naked eye, it is quite easy to detect the presence of pubic lice. If in doubt, you can request an examination by a healthcare professional. 


Pubic lice are generally eliminated by using specialized creams available in pharmacies without a prescription. If you want more information, ask your pharmacist about which product to use.


It is also crucial to wash, in very hot water, all clothes, bed sheets, and other materials that have been in direct contact with an infected person. The partners of, and those living with an infected person, should all be treated at the same time.



Those who are infected must avoid physical proximity with others for the duration of the treatment in order to prevent the propagation of lice to those around them. It is wise to avoid sexual relations (even if protected!) for the duration of the treatment. Those who are infected must also avoid sharing their clothes, towels, or other personal hygiene items.


Source: Public Health Agency of Canada

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