What are crabs?

Crabs, or pubic lice, are tiny brown bloodsucking insects, so called because of their crablike claws, which allow them to hold on to pubic hair. They are normally found in hair around the vagina, anus, penis and scrotum, although they can be found in the armpits or elsewhere on hairy guys.

How do I get it?

Crabs are usually transferred during naked body contact (yes, we mean sex). Less often, they can be caught from infested bedding, clothes and towels.

How do I prevent it?

Crabs are difficult to prevent. The only way is to avoid contact with anyone with crabs until they have been treated. That's easier said than done as not everyone with crabs will know they have them.

How do I know I've got it?

Crabs cling to your skin and suck blood, causing intense itching. The lice are tiny but often visible.

How do I get it treated?

Lotions such as Lyclear are available from chemists, without prescription, for getting rid of crabs. They are also available free of charge from sexual health and GUM clinics. You need to apply the lotion from the neck downwards and keep it on for 24 hours. Shaving pubic hair will not get rid of crabs. It is important to wash all clothes, towels and bedding you have used since you picked up crabs on a hot cycle when you start using the lotion. Ensure that your partner, or anyone with whom you have had intimate bodily contact, or shared a bed, treats themselves at the same time.

LAST UPDATED: 09/01/2017