Lice (also called Crabs)


What causes Lice (Crabs) ?

How long do Lice take to show after contact ?

What are the symptoms of Lice ?

What is the treatment for Pubic Lice ?


Picture of a beach crab, not a pubic louse type crab, but what everyone thinks of when crabs are mentioned!!


What causes Lice (Crabs)?

Lice are tiny flattened, generally wingless, parasitic animals that live on the skin.

There are three types of Lice:

  • Pubic Lice (Phthirus pubis) – often known as crabs – are caught by close body contact and, although usually transmitted during sex, this is not always the case.
  • Body
  • Head Lice
  • Eggs, laid by the female louse are called nits and are found at the base of a hair or on the shaft.
  • Head lice, often known as nits, are often found on the heads, in the base of the hair, of school children.

How long do Lice take to show after contact?

  • When an adult louse bites you to feed, you may notice this immediately.
  • Otherwise, it may take between 1 and 2 weeks before you notice them.
  • Once they arrive, Pubic and Head Lice live on the body at all times.
  • They crawl to all hairy areas of your body.
  • Body Lice live in seams of clothing and crawl onto your body to feed.
  • 48 hours after the adults’ mate, the female lays her eggs (nits) at the base of hairs.
  • The nit sticks to your hair – and as this grows, the nit moves with it, away from your skin.
  • After a week, the nits hatch and travel back towards the skin for another week.
  • They then mature into an adult louse and the cycle begins again.

What are the symptoms of Lice?

You may notice:

  • Little creatures crawling about in your hair.
  • Small dark spots where they have injected their saliva while feeding.
  • You will probably itch.
  • Scratching may cause the skin to bleed and crust over; and
  • Some sore areas may become infected.

What is the treatment for Pubic Lice?

  • Lotions are prescribed to kill the lice.
  • Clothing, bed linen and towels should all be changed and washed thoroughly.
  • Symptoms may take a week or two to clear.
  • Treatment is repeated after a week.
  • This gives time for any unhatched nits to hatch and then be killed by the treatment.


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