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Pubic lice are easy to treat — you usually don’t even need a doctor’s prescription. You can get over-the-counter pubic lice treatment at a drugstore, or from your nurse or doctor.

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What’s the treatment for pubic lice?

Pubic lice treatments are easy to use and come in gels, shampoos, liquids, and foam. Most are sold over-the-counter in drugstores, so you can buy them without getting a prescription from a doctor first. Common brands are A-200, Rid, and Nix. Follow the directions that come in the package carefully. You may need to use the treatment more than once.

You can get stronger medicines for pubic lice with a prescription. If you have lice in your eyebrows or eyelashes, you need a special kind of treatment that you can only get from your nurse or doctor. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, talk to your nurse or doctor before using any treatment.

Anyone you’ve had intimate contact with should treat themselves at the same time, so you don’t pass crabs back and forth. Always use freshly-washed clothes, towels, and bedding after you finish treatment.

What do I need to do to get rid of pubic lice?

Even after you finish the treatment, most of the nits (lice eggs) will stay stuck to your hairs. You can pick them off with your fingernails or a fine-toothed comb.

Along with using medication, wash or dry clean all of your bedding and towels. Also wash or dry clean any clothing that you wore while you had crabs. Wash these fabrics on the hottest setting, and dry them on the hot cycle for at least 20 minutes.

You can also put fabrics that can’t be washed in a sealed bag for 2 weeks, until the crabs and their eggs die out. You can also vacuum rugs and furniture. You don’t need to call an exterminator or fumigate your home.

Tell your sexual partners and anyone else you’ve had intimate contact with during the last month that they may have crabs. You should all treat yourselves at the same time so you don’t re-infect each other. And don’t have sex or any other kind of intimate contact until everyone finishes their treatment and knows their crabs are gone for good. It’s also a good idea to get tested for other STDs.

If you still see live lice after 9-10 days, do the treatment again. And make sure you’ve washed everything you needed to, and that your sexual partners did the treatment too. If the crabs still don’t go away, talk to your nurse or doctor.

Is there a home remedy for public lice?

Home remedies like hot baths or shaving don’t work. Treatments that soothe itching (like hydrocortisone cream) can help you feel better, but they won’t cure your crabs. The only thing that will actually get rid of your crabs for good are medicines meant to kill pubic lice. 

Trying to treat your pubic lice with home remedies can make your infection worse, and waiting to treat your pubic lice can make it more likely that you’ll spread the crabs to other people. 

Pubic lice are easy to treat — you usually don’t even need a prescription. You can get over-the-counter pubic lice treatment at a drugstore, or from your nurse or doctor.

More questions from patients:

How long does pubic lice live on clothes?

Pubic lice (crabs) feed on human blood. So if one falls off your body, it usually dies within 1–2 days. However, their eggs can take about 6–10 days to hatch. So if an egg is on your clothing or bed sheets, that can cause another infection. 

To get rid of pubic lice and their eggs, machine wash and dry your clothes and bed sheets in hot water (at least 130°F) and the high heat drying cycle. Clothes and other things that aren’t washable can be dry-cleaned or sealed in a plastic bag and stored for 2 weeks (until the lice and eggs die out).

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