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Crabs (cont.)

When to Seek Medical Care

Patient Comments

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 11/21/2017

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