They have six legs and do actually look like crabs, hence the name.


Crabs are usually picked up during sex or intimate body contact.  However, they can also be picked up from sharing towels, bedding or clothing.  In fact, in 2001, the Disney Corporation agreed to supply their workers who dressed up as Disney characters their own supply of underwear, as they were getting complaints from staff about lice being passed on between staff via their costumes.


Symptoms of crabs usually include intense itching (especially at night) in areas where you have body hair such as your groin, armpits, chest hair, leg hair, facial hair and even eyebrows or eyelashes.  You’ll probably be able to see them and their eggs if you look carefully.

People with pubic lice or scabies can feel generally unwell and run down.  This is where the term ‘feeling lousy’ comes from.


There is very effective treatment available without prescription from most chemists.  These lotions and creams are generally very good at clearing the infestation quickly.  Just take care to follow the instructions on the pack carefully and wash your clothes and bedding on hot wash when you start treatment.  Also, make sure anybody who is likely to have come into contact with your lice gets treated too, otherwise you’ll just keep re-infecting each other.

How to avoid it

It’s very difficult to avoid crabs, but you should avoid having sex until they’ve been treated to avoid passing them on.