Pubic lice

Alternative Names

Pediculosis – pubic lice; Lice – pubic; Crabs

Definition of Pubic lice

Pubic lice are small, six-legged creatures that infect the pubic hair area and lay eggs. These lice can also be found in armpit hair and eyebrows.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Pubic lice are known as . Lice infestation is found mostly in adolescents.

Signs and tests

An examination of the outer genital area typically reveals small gray-white oval eggs (nits) attached to the hair shaft. It may also reveal adult lice. The health care provider might also see scratch marks or signs of an infection such as .


Pubic lice are best treated with a prescription wash such as Elimite or Kwell:

Expectations (prognosis)

The proper treatment, including thorough cleaning, should get rid of the lice.


A.D.A.M. Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Greg Juhn, MTPW, David R. Eltz. Previously reviewed by Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network (10/11/2008). – 12/2/2009

Crab louse, female
Pubic louse-male
Crab lice
Head louse and pubic louse

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

Article written by

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission ( URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability.