Pubic lice, also known as crabs, can be transmitted through intimate contact between individuals, and although it is considered a sexually transmitted disease (STD), it cannot be totally prevented by using a condom, a doctor said.
A young man in his 20s had sought treatment at a hospital in Kaohsiung after experiencing intense itching in the genital area and was found to have pubic lice, a report by the Chinese-language Apple Daily said yesterday.
Kaohsiung Municipal United Hospital Division of Urology attending physician Tsai Hsiu-nan (蔡秀男), who treated the man, was quoted as saying that the patient did not know why he was so itchy, but said he had a one-night stand with a woman three months ago and that he had used a condom.
The doctor found at least eight lice crawling in the patient’s pubic hair and many more nits near the roots.
Tsai told the man to shave off all his pubic hair and apply an insecticide cream.
The lice were gone after a week of treatment, the report said.
Pubic lice is mainly transmitted through sexual contact with a partner who has lice infestation, Tsai said, adding that while using a condom can reduce the risks of STD, the condom does not cover the entire pubic area, so pubic lice can still be passed to a sexual partner.
According to data by the Taiwanese Dermatological Association, an adult pubic louse is about 1mm in size and has six legs that can cling on to human skin, hair or clothing, while nits are only about 0.8mm in size and often found near the hair roots because they absorb heat from the skin to hatch.
Sexual partners of people with crabs should also consult a doctor and avoid sexual contact until all partners are completely cured, the association said.
Infected people should wash their clothes, towels and bedding with hot water and use a dryer to exterminate the lice and nits.