Pubic lice


Pubic lice are tiny insects that can live on pubic hair. They are also called crabs. You may find them in your eyelashes, beard or other body hair. They are passed on during sex. But they can also be in clothes, bedding or towels. You can get rid of them with a cream.

Signs and symptoms

Pubic lice are easy to spot. They look like tiny crabs. They’re grey or brown and 1-3 mm long.
Symptoms you may have are:

  • Itching in your pubic hair that doesn’t go away when you scratch it
  • Cuts or irritated skin from the scratching
  • White or yellow dots on your pubic hair: these are lice eggs 
  • Greyish-blue spots on your skin: these are lice bites
  • Red or brown spots in your underwear: that’s lice poo
  • The itching often starts 5 days after you’ve had sex.

Pubic lice are not that common. So if you do have itching, it is usually something else,  like scabies. These are also tiny insects, but you can’t see them. And the irritation is in other parts of your body too. 

Read more about scabies


You can treat pubic lice yourself, with a cream you can buy at a chemist or pharmacy. Use the cream again after 1 week. Then you can be sure that all eggs and lice are dead.

Washing with water and ordinary soap or shampoo will not get rid of pubic lice.

Tell the people you’ve had sex with in the last 2 months that you have pubic lice. Then they can check to see whether they also have it. And use cream too. 

Make sure the pubic lice don’t come back

  • Wash the clothes you were wearing before the treatment at a minimum of 60°C 
  • Also wash your bedding, to kill the eggs 
  • Air your mattress and pillow
  • If something can’t be washed, have it dry cleaned. If neither are possible, put it in a sealed plastic bag for a week. Or in a freezer for 24 hours