- Found in hair around the penis, vagina, anus, under the arms or on the face
- Hangs onto hairs near roots and bites
- Lays eggs
How do you get it?
Crabs can be a sexually transmitted disease. It is most often spread by skin-to-skin contact during sex. You can also get it by sharing sheets, towels or clothing with someone who has crabs. Indirect transmission is possible because they can survive 24-48 hours (1-2 days) off of a person's body.
Symptoms include itching in the hairy areas around the penis, vagina, anus, underarms (armpits) or face. Affected areas can also include the chest, beard, and eyelashes. Pubic lice rarely spread to the head. On hairs, they may look like gray or red-brown dots. It is also possible to see tiny white crab eggs on the hairs or red spots on the skin where crabs have bitten.
To see if you might have crabs, go to a doctor or a health clinic.
If you have crabs, medication can be applied on the affected areas and then washed off. Clothing, sheets and towels used in the past two weeks should be washed in hot water or dry cleaned.
Avoid contact with someone who has crabs. Using condoms may not protect you from crabs, because the bugs can live in places condoms do not cover. Limiting your number of sex partners or intimate contacts can lower your chances of getting infected. Clothing and linen used in the past two weeks should be washed in hot water or dry cleaned.
For information on free and low cost STD testing and treatment services in Los Angeles County, call the STD Hotline at 1-800-758-0880 or visit our STD Testing & Services section.