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Important Information on Pubic Lice

Life Cycle of Pubic Lice

There are three forms of pubic lice:
 
  • The egg (also called a nit)
  • The nymph
  • The adult.
     
(Click What Do Lice Look Like? to see the actual size of the three forms of lice compared to a penny.)
 
The Nit
Nits are the eggs of pubic lice. They are very small (about the size of a knot in thread) and are hard to see. They are oval and usually yellow to white in color. Nits take about one week to hatch. Once hatched, they are white or clear in color.
 
Nymph
The nit hatches into a baby pubic louse called a nymph. It looks like an adult pubic louse, but is smaller. To live, the nymph must feed on blood.
 
Adult Pubic Louse
The adult louse is about the size of a sesame seed, has six legs, and is tan to grayish-white in color. To live, adult lice need to feed on blood. If the pubic louse does not get a blood meal, it dies within one to two days.
 

Signs and Symptoms

The most common symptom of pubic lice is frequent, intense itching. This is because the saliva of the pubic lice causes an allergic reaction.
 
(Click Signs of Pubic Lice for other possible signs or symptoms.)
 
Pubic lice are generally found in the genital area on pubic hair, but may occasionally be found on other coarse body hair, such as hair on the legs, armpits, mustache, beard, eyebrows, or eyelashes. Infestations of young children are usually on the eyebrows or eyelashes.
 

Diagnosing Pubic Lice

An infestation is diagnosed by looking closely through pubic hair for nits, nymphs, or adults. It may be difficult to find nymphs or adults; there are usually few of them, and they can quickly move away from light. If crawling lice are not seen, finding nits confirms that a person is infested and should be treated.
 
Nits and pubic lice are usually visible to the naked eye, but a hand lens or light may help.
 
(Click Diagnosing Pubic Lice for more information on this topic.)
 

Pubic Lice (Crabs)

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