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Crabs (cont.)

When to Seek Medical Care

Generally, pubic lice can be cured with an application of certain medications, but in some circumstances it may be necessary to seek a doctor's care.

Go to a doctor immediately if you think you may have an infection.

  • One of the main concerns with pubic lice is that people often scratch incessantly, and this scratching can lead to a secondary bacterial infection.
  • When scratching is intense for long periods, the skin can be worn and broken.
  • If you notice a large area of redness or pus in the area, you may have a skin infection.
  • Other signs of a pubic infection include a fever, burning when you urinate, or a genital discharge.

Permethrin (Elimite) is a lice-killing product that is available over-the-counter without a prescription. When using this product it is important to exactly follow the instructions on the package.

  • Avoid mucous membranes, which are found at the tip of the penis and the opening of the vagina.
  • Repeat anti-lice treatment in seven to 10 days to kill nits that may have hatched.
  • Lindane (Kwell): An alternative treatment when permethrin (Elimite) is not available. Lindane requires a doctor's prescription.
    • Apply for 10 minutes then rinse with warm water.
    • Lindane should not be used on children. Lindane can be toxic to the brain and nervous system and should only be used when other treatments have failed.
  • Malathion lotion (Ovide) and ivermectin (Stromectol) are other prescription medications that have been shown to be effective against pubic lice or crabs.
    • Use over-the-counter antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) for itching.
  • Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/27/2014
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