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asked in Crabs/Pubic Lice by

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A symptom is something the patient feels and reports, while a sign is something other people, such as the doctor detect. For example, pain may be a symptom while a rash may be a sign. 

Signs and symptoms may not become apparent until one to three weeks after a person comes into contact with the lice. Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Itching in the pubic region - this is not caused by biting from the insect, but from an allergic reaction to the louse saliva and feces (droppings, excrements, stools). The itching is usually worse at night.
  • Red spots and skin lesions - small red bumps or spots may appear. Scratching by the patient may also results in marks.
  • Blue spots on the skin - especially on the thighs or lower abdomen.
  • Other parts of the body - the lice may spread to the stomach, upper thighs, chest, moustache, and beard. In children they may spread to the eyelashes. Wherever the lice are located, symptoms of itching are common, as well as skin irritation.
  • Louse droppings - the presence of dark brown or black powder on the skin or in underwear could indicate the presence of crab droppings.
  • Blood in underwear - this is usually caused by scratching by the patient which breaks the skin.
  • Adult pubic lice and eggs - an adult pubic louse is smaller than a match head; it is approximately 2mm long. It has six legs and has a gray-brown color. Its back legs are very large, and look like the claws of a crab. The large back legs are used to cling onto the hair.

Eggs are very small, oval shaped, with a yellowish-white color. They stick firmly to the base of the hair. 

Both the adult pubic lice and their eggs are visible to the naked eye - some people may need a magnifying glass. You may be able to detect them in coarse hair in the following parts of your body:

  • Along the edge of the scalp
  • In facial hair (beards, moustaches)
  • In the eyebrows
  • In the eyelashes
  • In the hair around the anus
  • In the hair of the armpits
  • In the pubic hair (genital area)

The detection of empty eggshells (nits) after treatment does not mean the infestation is necessarily still present.

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