Sexually Transmitted Disease Facts

Pubic Lice (“Crabs”) and Scabies
(Pubic lice caused by Phthirus pubis, the crab louse, and Scabies caused by Sarcoptes scabiei, a mite)

On this page:
Signs and Symptoms
Transmission
Complications
Prevention
Testing and Treatment
For More Information

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Signs and Symptoms

  • Severe itching
  • Sometimes lice can be seen in hairy parts of body

Transmission

  • Sexual contact
  • Close physical contact
  • Infested towels, bedding and clothing

Transmission from toilet seats is unlikely.

Complications

If Left Untreated:

  • Can spread to sex partners
  • Pubic lice can spread from pubic hair to other hairy areas
  • Scabies can spread through a family

Prevention

  • Avoiding vaginal, oral or anal sex is the best way to prevent STDs.
  • Limit the number of sex partners.
  • Notify sex partners immediately if infested.
  • Infested sex partners should be treated.
  • Avoid sleeping in the same bed or sharing towels or clothes with someone who is infested.

Testing and Treatment

Treatment of Pubic Lice and Scabies:

  • Get a test from a medical provider if infection is suspected.
  • Can be killed using medication prescribed by a medical provider or, in the case of pubic lice, over-the-counter products.
  • Partners should be treated at same time.
  • Wash all clothes and bedding in hot water.
  • Vacuum furniture.

NOTE: A person can be reinfected after treatment.

For more information, contact:

STD and HIV Section
Minnesota Department of Health
(651) 201-5414

Minnesota Family Planning and STD Hotline Attention: Non-MDH link
1-800-783-2287 Voice/TTY; (651) 645-9360 (Metro)

American Social Health Association (ASHA)
Attention: Non-MDH link

CDC National STD and AIDS Hotlines
Attention: Non-MDH link

1-800-CDC-INFO; 1-888-232-6348 TTY
1-800-344-7432 (Spanish)

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Updated Tuesday, March 26, 2013 at 01:58PM