Womens Health

STDs: Pubic Lice, Scabies, and "Crabs"

"Crabs" is a term used to describe any sexually transmitted disease in which small parasitic insects spread from one infected person to another. Some of the most common types of STDs that fall under this category are pubic lice infection and scabies. While lice and scabies may be transmitted sexually through contact, the STD may also be transmitted by sharing bed sheets, towels, toilet seats, or clothes with an infected individual.


STD Symptoms: Pubic Lice

As always, the best form of prevention when it comes to a sexually transmitted infection is to use protective measures such as condoms, abstinence, and avoiding multiple partners.

Some of the signs and symptoms of a pubic lice infection include the following:


  • itching and irritation in the genital area
  • bluish spots on the skin where lice have been feeding
  • dark spots on skin or underwear
  • apparent light brown insects the size of a pinhead
  • oval, whitish eggs (nits) in hair

While there are no serious risks and complications associated with "crabs," public lice will not go away until treated, are highly infectious, and can cause significant discomfort. Crabs can also lead to skin damage and infection indicated by open sores or pus that will need treatment by a doctor. Contact a health care provider if you experience unusual discharge or fever in addition to these symptoms.


Symptoms of Scabies

Scabies is an STD caused by a tiny, burrowing mite known as Sarcoptes scabiei. Scabies is a skin condition that causes intense itching in the areas surrounding the mite burrows. Some of the common symptoms of scabies include the following:


  • Itching, particularly at night
  • A scabies rash made up of tiny blisters or bumps

The scabies rash will typically appear in the folds of skin. This is likely to occur in areas of the body such as between the fingers, wrists, abdomen, ankles, inner elbow, armpits, shoulder blades, knees, around the waist, and genital areas.

Some of the complications associated with a scabies infection include a secondary bacterial infection usually caused by scratching.


Treatment of Crabs

A health care provider can provide a diagnosis of crabs after carefully inspecting the skin. In some cases, a scraping sample of the infected area may be taken and viewed under a microscope, since the mites cannot be viewed by the naked eye.

Treatment of scabies and pubic lice involves topical medication such as creams, lotions, and specialized shampoos. The medication usually prescribed comes in the form of permethrin and crotamiton. Many of these treatments are available at a drugstore and may be recommended by a pharmacist.

It is important to follow directions carefully when it comes to lice and scabies treatment. This will usually involve applying medication over the entire body, and waiting eight hours before removal.

Measures should also be taken to avoid re-infestation and can include washing clothes and linen in hot water, freezing clothes, fabrics and blankets, or storing fabrics in air-tight bags for two weeks in order to eliminate mites as well as eggs.


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