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School Health Reference Guide

The Region of Peel School Health Reference Guide is a supplementary resource to relevant Peel and Dufferin-Peel school board policies. Refer to school board policy first if you have questions or concerns.

Pubic Lice (Pediculosis Pubis)*

Pubic lice also known as "crabs" are members of the lice family. They are flat-backed, wingless, and grayish-white or reddish-brown in colour.

Crabs are usually found in the pubic area where they attach to the short, coarse pubic hair. They can also be found in underarm hair, moustaches, beards, eyebrows and eyelashes.

A person can get crabs through intimate sexual contact or by sharing bedding, towels or clothing with a person who has crabs.

What to look for

The most common signs of crabs are itching, scratching, redness, skin irritation in the genital area. Tiny specks of dark brown waste materials from the crab may be seen on underwear, bed sheets and body skin. The lice may be visible or someone may see tiny blue spots where the lice have bitten them. Scratching can lead to secondary infections.

What may seem like dandruff flakes at the base of pubic hair are actually crab nits (eggs).

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Of the person
  • You can buy a medicated treatment at a drugstore without a prescription. Talk to a doctor or pharmacist if the person needing treatment is pregnant or breast feeding.
  • Follow the instructions that come with the medication very carefully.
  • Put lotion on every hairy part of the body except the head. Talk to a doctor if there are lice in the eyebrows, eyelashes or beard, as a different medication will be needed.
  • Put on freshly washed, clean clothing after the treatment and again after showering the lotion off.
  • A person with crabs will probably need only one treatment. If symptoms persist treat one more time in the same week. Do not treat more than two times per week.

Sexual contacts within the last month of the person being treated, or anyone who has shared their bed, towels or clothing in the last month should be treated at the same time.

The person being treated should also be tested for other sexually transmitted infections.

In the home
  • On the same day that the medicated treatment is used, wash clothing, bedding and towels in hot water (50ºC).
  • Place in the dryer on the hottest cycle for 20 minutes.
  • Dry clean any item that can’t be washed or pack the item loosely in a sealed plastic bag for 1 week.
  • Put articles in a non-food freezer for 24 hours to kill the lice.
  • Vacuum and spray mattresses and pillows with a household disinfectant.
  • Vacuum rugs, bed and furniture.
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More information
For further information: *(adapted from "Pubic Lice" fact sheet, Healthy Sexuality Team, Region of Peel Public Health)

Next: Scabies sample parent notification letter >>



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Revised: Thursday October 01 2015