What Are Crabs? Everything You Need to Know

You may be thinking how much you love crab in a restaurant - always juicy, sweet, and flavorful - but today, we are talking about different crabs. Pubic lice, also known as crabs, are a common sexually transmitted disease (STD) that are parasites infecting the genital area. This isn’t the most dangerous STD, but it is one you want to be aware of and understand. You are probably thinking, “What are crabs exactly?”, SelfCollect is here to tell you everything you need to know.

Crabs are a very common STD in the United States, where nearly 3 million people are infected each year. While crabs are usually easy to get rid of you want to be aware of the signs and symptoms and how to prevent them. 

What Are Crabs?

Crabs are parasites that infect pubic hair and the genital area. They are small insects that look similar to beach crabs crawling around. They will live on your skin and pubic hair while feeding on your blood. These tiny crabs are very easily spread during sexual contact whether it be oral or genital contact.

One of the most obvious ways to know you have pubic lice is through constant itching in the genital area. When inspecting your body you will likely see tiny eggs on the pubic area and may see the lice. The lice are a tan-gray color with claw like legs on the front of a rounded body. As the name suggests, the lice resemble small crabs. Although crabs are known to be a sexually transmitted disease they can also live on leg hair, armpit hair, and eyebrow hair. 

Symptoms of Crabs

Many times people mistake the symptoms that come with crabs to be the cause of something else - such as a rash. Symptoms will usually begin about 5 days after infection; however, some people will never receive any symptoms. The most common symptoms will include:

  • Itching in the genital area

  • Small bugs in the pubic hair

  • Small eggs (nits) on the bottom of pubic hair

  • Bruised areas, usually a dark blue, where crabs are living

  • Feverish and run down

These symptoms can be easily mistaken for different rashes on the pubic area, so if you begin to experience this speak with your doctor about treatment options. 

Treatment for Crabs

Thankfully crabs are usually easily treatable with over-the-counter medications and creams, but it’s smart to speak with a doctor first. Many treatments come in over-the-counter forms of creams, gels, shampoos, and foams. Be aware that sometimes crabs won’t be gone in just one treatment and it may need to be performed multiple times. Common brands for treatment include Nix, A-200, and Rid

You want to be sure to speak with anyone you have had intimate contact with to ensure they receive treatment as well. SelfCollect understands how difficult it can be to have conversations with a partner about a sexually transmitted disease, so read our article on How to Talk About STDs with Your Partner

Once you have completed your treatment you want to be sure you wash all towels, sheets, blankets, and clothing that may also be infected. It is wise to vacuum and clean any areas which may also be infected such as rugs and couches. You want to be sure that you use medications meant for treating pubic lice since at home remedies will not actually kill the crabs. While some at home remedies may make you feel better you will need a medication meant to kill crabs.

In Conclusion

You want to do your best to prevent reinfection for yourself and your partner. Be sure that each of you takes all necessary measures to clean your homes, clothing, bedding, and bodies to help kill any pubic lice lying around. You will want to be sure before your next get together that each of you are crab free or you will continue to reinfect one another. After treatment it is best to wait about a week before being sexually intimate again to make sure you don’t continue symptoms.

Because crabs are a common STD they often go hand-in-hand with other STDs. Once you notice that you have pubic lice it is best to test yourself for other sexually transmitted diseases to be safe. If you aren’t comfortable going to a doctor’s office, or don’t have the time, order a kit from SelfCollect. We give you the ability to take different tests in the comfort and privacy of your own home. We hope that you now have a better understanding about crabs and are no longer asking yourself, “What Are Crabs Really?”.