Skip to main navigation Skip to main content Skip to footer For Medicare For Providers For Brokers For Employers Español For Individuals & Families: For Individuals & Families Medical Dental Other Supplemental Explore coverage through work How to Buy Health Insurance Types of Dental Insurance Open Enrollment vs. Special Enrollment See all topics Shop for Medicare plans Member Guide Find a Doctor Log in to myCigna
Home Knowledge Center Wellness Library Pubic Lice

Pubic Lice

Condition Basics

What are pubic lice?

Pubic lice are tiny insects that can live in your pubic area. Sometimes they're found on facial hair, eyelashes, eyebrows, armpits, chest hair, and the scalp. But they're different than head lice or body lice. Pubic lice are often called "crabs" because they look like tiny crabs.

Pubic lice eggs (nits) look like tiny yellow or white dots attached to pubic hair, close to the skin. They may be easier to see than live lice. Nits can look like dandruff. But you can't brush them away.

Millions of people get pubic lice every year. It doesn't mean you're not clean.

Pubic lice are usually spread through sexual contact. But sometimes they can spread through shared clothes, bedding, or towels. Pubic lice can't live long away from a human body. And they can't live on smooth surfaces.

Pubic lice can be uncomfortable, but they're not dangerous.

What are the symptoms?

Pubic lice usually cause itching around the genitals, anus, armpits, eyelashes, or other body parts with hair. But not everyone has itching.

The bites from the lice can cause small, flat marks on your torso, thighs, or upper arms. These marks can look like bruises. They can last for several months, even after the lice have been killed.

If you have lice in your eyelashes, your eyes can get crusty or irritated.

How are pubic lice treated?

Pubic lice won't go away without treatment.

There are several over-the-counter medicines that kill pubic lice. Most of them are creams or shampoos. There are also prescription medicines. Each type of medicine is a little different, so it's important to follow the directions carefully. Your doctor or pharmacist can answer any questions you may have.

If the lice are in your eyelashes, talk to your doctor about how to treat it.

You may need to repeat treatment if you still have live lice after the first treatment.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Use the medicine, body lotion, or shampoo that your doctor recommends. Use the treatment exactly as directed. Some medicines need just one treatment. Others require follow-up treatments.
  • Check the area again 7 to 10 days after the first treatment. If you find live lice, you may need a second treatment. This is to make sure all lice are killed, including those that hatched since the first treatment.
  • Make sure to get tested for other sexually transmitted infections.
  • Try not to scratch. Use an over-the-counter anti-itch cream to calm the itching. If the itching is really bad, ask your doctor about an over-the-counter antihistamine. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • If you want to remove nits after treatment, use a special comb. The combs are often packaged with over-the-counter lice shampoos. You can also shave the affected hair.

How can you help prevent pubic lice?

  • Machine-wash bedding, towels, and clothes in hot water (at least 130°F [54.4°C]). Dry them in a hot dryer. If you don't have access to a washing machine or if the items can't be washed or dried, store these items in a sealed plastic bag for 14 days.
  • Vacuum your home, including mattresses. You don't have to do other special deep cleaning.
  • Avoid sexual contact until you've successfully treated the lice.
  • Tell all your sex partners from the last month that you have pubic lice. Talking about this may be uncomfortable. But it will help prevent you from spreading the lice back and forth.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.

© 1995-2024 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

Related Links

Itching Relief

<cipublic-spinner variant="large"><span>Loading…</span></cipublic-spinner>

Page Footer

I want to...

Get an ID card File a claim View my claims and EOBs Check coverage under my plan See prescription drug list Find an in-network doctor, dentist, or facility Find a form Find 1095-B tax form information View the Cigna Glossary Contact Cigna


Individuals and Families Medicare Employers Brokers Providers

Secure Member Sites

myCigna member portal Health Care Provider portal Cigna for Employers Client Resource Portal Cigna for Brokers

The Cigna Group Information

About Cigna Healthcare Company Profile Careers Newsroom Investors Suppliers The Cigna Group Third Party Administrators International Evernorth

 Cigna. All rights reserved.

Privacy Legal Product Disclosures Cigna Company Names Customer Rights Accessibility Non-Discrimination Notice Language Assistance [PDF] Report Fraud Sitemap Cookie Settings


Individual and family medical and dental insurance plans are insured by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (CHLIC), Cigna HealthCare of Arizona, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Illinois, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Georgia, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of North Carolina, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of South Carolina, Inc., and Cigna HealthCare of Texas, Inc. Group health insurance and health benefit plans are insured or administered by CHLIC, Connecticut General Life Insurance Company (CGLIC), or their affiliates (see a listing of the legal entities that insure or administer group HMO, dental HMO, and other products or services in your state). Accidental Injury, Critical Illness, and Hospital Care plans or insurance policies are distributed exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, are administered by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, and are insured by either (i) Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (Bloomfield, CT); (ii) Life Insurance Company of North America (“LINA”) (Philadelphia, PA); or (iii) New York Life Group Insurance Company of NY (“NYLGICNY”) (New York, NY), formerly known as Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York. The Cigna name, logo, and other Cigna marks are owned by Cigna Intellectual Property, Inc. LINA and NYLGICNY are not affiliates of Cigna.

All insurance policies and group benefit plans contain exclusions and limitations. For availability, costs and complete details of coverage, contact a licensed agent or Cigna sales representative. This website is not intended for residents of New Mexico.

Selecting these links will take you away from to another website, which may be a non-Cigna website. Cigna may not control the content or links of non-Cigna websites. Details