Also known as crabs
Pubic lice are tiny parasite insects that infest the pubic hair, armpits or chest hair and can be passed on by skin-to-skin contact.
Pubic lice infest pubic hair and sometimes hair of the armpits, eyebrows, eyelashes, beard and torso.
Lice infestation causes no serious harm but is a warning that you should be tested for other sexually transmissible infections.
Pubic lice do not tend to infect head hair.
Pubic lice are usually passed on through skin-to-skin sexual contact.
The main symptom is itchiness in the affected area. This is often worse at night.
Lice, lice eggs and nits (empty eggshells) can sometimes be seen, especially at the base of hairs.
Some people have no symptoms and so they do not know they have pubic lice.
Pubic lice are diagnosed by careful inspection of the affected area.
Topical creams or lotions are usually used to treat pubic lice:
If you have been diagnosed with pubic lice, you should tell any sexual partners from the last month so they can be examined and treated by their doctor.
Sometimes a second treatment is required one week later.
This fact sheet provides general sexual health information and is not intended to replace the need for a consultation with your doctor.
If you have concerns about your health, you should seek advice from your doctor.
If you require urgent care, you should go to your nearest Emergency Department or call 000.