Crabs (Pubic Lice)

Crabs (also called pubic lice) are small insects that infest pubic hair. They can also infest other types of body hair, such as eyelashes, eyebrows, facial hair and armpits, but they are most often found in pubic hair.

Crabs are usually spread through sexual contact. They can also be spread through contact with the clothing and bedding of someone with crabs.

Animals cannot get or spread pubic lice.

If left untreated, the affected area will continue to itch. Repeated scratching of the infested area can result in other serious skin infections.


Symptoms include itching in the pubic area. To the naked eye, crabs look like small flakes of skin. Crab eggs look like white or gray dots attached to the hair.


Do not have sex with someone infested with crabs until they complete treatment.


Your health care provider can tell if you have crabs by looking at the infested area.


Medicated creams and shampoos can cure crabs. Some of these treatments are available without a prescription.

Machine wash clothing, bedding, and towels and dry on a hot cycle. Seal items that cannot be washed in a plastic bag for two weeks.

Sex Partners

Your sex partner(s) need to be examined and treated so they do not re-infest you or pass on the infestation to others.

Crabs in Pregnancy

There are no known serious effects of having crabs during pregnancy.

Some treatments for crabs could be dangerous to an unborn baby. Tell your health care provider if you are pregnant or breastfeeding when you seek treatment for crabs.

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