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Know Your STDs and How to Prevent Them: Pubic Lice

Pubic lice, commonly called “crabs,” are one of the most easily spread sexually transmitted diseases out there. And because of the strong correlation between an infestation of pubic lice and infection with other sexually transmitted diseases, it’s important to know what pubic lice are and what to do about them — and how TEST SMARTLY LABS can help you take control of your sexual health.

What are pubic lice?

Pubic lice are small, tick-like parasites that feed on blood by burrowing into a person’s skin.

How can I get it?

Pubic lice are passed through contact with any person or material who has them, whether via sex or sharing of clothes, towels or bedding.  Pubic lice are not spread by toilet seats or swimming pools because they cannot survive for long periods of time away from the warmth and humidity of a human host.

How will I know if I have them?

Symptoms of pubic lice infestation usually appear after approximately five days, though some people never get symptoms.  They include itchy and/or inflamed skin, visible lice (pale gray at first, but darker as they fill with blood) and eggs (white and usually found in small clumps near hair follicles), and spots of blood (caused by lice feeding in the skin).

What are the complications?

There are few complications, but some people develop discolored skin in spots where pubic lice have been feeding continually.  Additionally, people can develop secondary infections from scratching lice bites.

Is it treatable?

A pubic lice infestation is easily treated using over-the-counter cream rinses.  Stronger prescription medicines are available for particularly stubborn infestations.

How can I prevent it?

There is no fail-proof protection against pubic lice.  You can lessen your chances by limiting the number of people with whom you come into sexual contact, as well as not sharing clothes, towels or bedding.

How can I get tested?

A person can usually self-diagnose pubic lice, or a medical health professional can confirm.  However, there is a high association between the presence of pubic lice and contraction of other sexually transmitted diseases.  So, if you have or have had a pubic lice infestation, it is highly recommended that you be tested for other sexually transmitted diseases.  TEST SMARTLY LABS offers twenty testing locations across the United States, and we offer secure specimen control, accurate and reliable results, and complete confidentiality at low prices without the hassle or cost of a doctor’s visit.  Use the drop-down menu at the top of this page under Prevention Sites or visit our website to find a location near you.

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