Crab Lice Treatment And Prevention
Lice are parasitic organisms which feeds on the human blood and causes itching on the affected areas of the body. Depending on the site of infestation, the lice are classified as; pediculus humanus capitis or head lice, pediculus humanus corporis or body lice and phthirus pubis or pubic/ crab lice. In order to understand the treatment and management options, it is very important to learn the lifecycle and mode of reproduction as well as spread to healthy contacts.
According to a study reported in the Sexually Transmitted Diseases journal (1), investigators suggested that the global prevalence of pubic lice is 2%. The infection is mostly acquired via sexual contact with an affected person.
The Treatment And Management Of Crab Lice
Treatment of crab lice mainly revolves around; decontamination and medications, either topical or oral, depending upon the severity.
It is very important to decontaminate yourself and most importantly your surrounding; such as the house, clothing and bed. Bathrooms should be cleaned with bleach and all clothes, towels and sheets must be washed with hot water. In case a cloth cannot be washed or dry cleaned, seal it in an air tight plastic bag for 72 hours. In addition, entire house should be vacuumed properly.
Over the counter medications for treating pubic lice includes lotions and shampoos containing Nix, RID and A-200. The amount of medication to be applied and the application time depends on the severity of lice infestation and nature of formulation. If infestation is mild then you can wash your pubic hair thoroughly to get rid of crab lice. Pregnant and lactating mothers should ask doctor about the safety of different over-the-counter products (the same rule should be considered while treating an infant).
Eggs of crab lice can be very stubborn and even after the treatment, you may find some eggs attached to your hair. In all such cases, use tweezers to get rid of the eggs before they hatch and reproduce again.
If lice persist even after home and pharmacological remedies, you may need stronger medications, both topical and oral. These include:
- Malathion, the lotion applied topically on the affected area for a period of eight to twelve hours.
- Ivermectin is a two-pill course which is usually administered orally. A follow up dose can be given after ten days if infection persists.
- The strongest topical drug for pubic lice is lindane which is applied only for four minutes on the affected area. Due to high toxicity and high potential for adverse effects, it is usually not recommended for infants or for pregnant and breast feeding mothers.
Children with lice infestation in eyelashes may develop conjunctivitis and other visual issues. It is therefore always a good idea to consult a specialist. In mild cases home remedies can do wonders too. For example:
- Petroleum jelly, when applied over the eyelids and eyelashes about three times a day, can help in adequately managing pubic lice infestation. Another option is to pluck eggs by using a pair of tweezers. The usual lice shampoos should not be applied on eyes. Speak to your doctor regarding appropriate recommendations.
- When more than one family members are affected with pubic lice, all of them should be treated at the same time in order to minimize the chances of reinfection.
- Itching may persists for one or two weeks even after the resolution of infestation, but if you are experiencing skin discoloration, or drainage from the wounds or swelling; then you should speak to your doctor for other interventions.
If you are diagnosed with pubic lice infestation, it is strongly advised to inform all family members and your sexual partner so that they can take measures to minimize the risk of spread. Other helpful tips to prevent crab lice infestation are:
- One should avoid using cloths, towels and blankets of the affected person.
- Intimacy and sexual contact should be avoided until complete resolution is achieved.
- Shaving or waxing of pubic hair also helps in minimizing the risk of pubic hair infestation.
1. Dholakia, S., Buckler, J., Jeans, J. P., Pillai, A., Eagles, N., & Dholakia, S. (2014). Pubic lice: an endangered species?. Sexually transmitted diseases, 41(6), 388-391.
2. Bonilla, D. L., Durden, L. A., Eremeeva, M. E., & Dasch, G. A. (2013). Pediculus Infestations and Louse-borne Diseases: Challenges in Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention, and Control. PLOS Pathogens, 9(11).
3. Karabela, Y., Yardimci, G., Yildirim, I., Atalay, E., & Karabela, S. N. (2015). Treatment of Phthiriasis Palpebrarum and Crab Louse: Petrolatum Jelly and 1% Permethrin Shampoo. Case reports in medicine, 2015.