Pubic lice (phthirus pubis), also known as crabs, are tiny blood-sucking insects. They live in coarse human body hair, most commonly pubic hair, and cause itching and red spots.
The lice can also be found in:
- the eyelashes or eyebrows,
- hair on the abdomen or back, and
- facial hair, such as beards or moustaches
Adult pubic lice are about 2mm long and are grey-brown in colour.
Pubic lice are caught through close contact with someone who has them. The most common way is during sexual contact. There is not enough evidence to say whether pubic lice can be transferred through items such as bedding or towels, although some experts think that it might be possible.
For full details of Pubic Lice click here to be taken to the NHS Choices website. If you are worried you may be at risk of having an STI or have any symptoms (as mentioned on the NHS Choices link to Pubic Lice), you should visit your local sexual health or GUM clinic to have them checked out.
(Link checked as correct on 18/10/2013 by SA next update due 18/4/2014)