Crabs (also called pubic lice) are small, wingless insects that infest pubic hair. Both men and women can get crabs.
Crabs are usually spread through sexual contact.They can also be spread through contaminated clothing and bedding.
Symptoms, which usually appear within five days of being exposed, include itching in the groin area.The crabs look like small flakes of skin to the naked eye, but you can actually see the insects with a magnifying glass.You may also see white or gray dots in your pubic hair; these are louse eggs.
Your doctor or other health care provider can tell if you have crabs by examining the infested area.
In addition to the discomfort of the infestation, repeated scratching of the infested area can result in a serious skin infection. If you have symptoms or think you've been exposed to crabs, get examined and treated immediately to avoid any complications and continued transmission.
Yes. If you're diagnosed with crabs, it's important to tell everyone you've had sex with recently, so they can be examined and treated, too.
We don't know of any serious effects - on the mother or the baby - of having crabs during pregnancy, but you should tell your provider that you're pregnant when you seek treatment for crabs.
Latex condoms may be helpful in preventing the sexual transmission of crabs, but only when the infestation is covered or protected by the condom. Infections that are sexually transmitted can be avoided by not having sex. If you are sexually active, you can reduce your risk of getting crabs and most other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV, by having sex only in a mutually monogamous relationship with a partner you are sure is not infected. If you are having sex outside of such a relationship, you can reduce your risk of STDs by:
1. Always using a latex condom (or other type of latex barrier) whenever you have sex - vaginal, anal, or oral. Condoms made of 'natural'materials, such as lambskin, protect against pregnancy, but not against STDs. If you are allergic to latex, you can use condoms made of polyurethane or other synthetic materials..
2. Limiting the number of people you have sex with. The more partners you have, the higher your risk.
3. Avoiding alcohol and drugs when you have sex. Drinking or getting high makes it much harder to remember to use condoms to protect yourself and others. For free, confidential help with a substance abuse problem, call (888) NYC-WELL (888-692-9355), or call 311.
Free, confidential STD exams and treatment, and confidential or anonymous HIV counseling and testing, are available at Health Department clinics in all 5 boroughs of New York City. Health insurance, proof of citizenship, and parental consent are NOT required. See a list of clinics and hours online or call 311 .