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What are Pubic Lice?

Pubic lice are tiny parasitic insects. The eggs are called nits and appear as brownish dots fixed to coarse body hair.

Infections are passed from one person to another through close body or sexual contact.

They can be found in pubic hair, underarm and leg hair, hair on the abdomen, chest, beards. It may be possible for pubic lice to be spread by sharing clothing, bedding and towels.

Signs and symptoms

Signs and symptoms may appear several weeks after contact. Some people will not have any symptoms.

You might notice:

  • Itching in the affected areas
  • Black powdery droppings in your underwear
  • Brown eggs on pubic or other body hair
  • Irritation/inflammation in the affected area


A test can be done at a genitourinary medicine (GUM), sexual health clinic or your general practice. You can also go to a pharmacy for advice and treatment.


Treatment is a special cream, lotion or shampoo. The doctor, nurse or pharmacist will advise on what treatment to use. To be effective, treatment needs to be repeated after 3–7 days. You do not need to shave off pubic or other body hair.

If you do decide to treat yourself, you may want to consider having a sexual health check to make sure you don’t have a sexually transmitted infection.

Inform the doctor, nurse or pharmacist if you are, or think you might be, pregnant or if you are breastfeeding. This will affect the type of treatment you are given.

Public lice will not go away without treatment. If you delay seeking treatment you risk passing the condition onto someone else.

Sexual partner(s) should be treated at the same time even if they don't have any signs and symptoms.


It is strongly advised not to have sexual intercourse (vaginal, anal or oral sex) or close body contact, until you and your partner(s) have finished treatment and any follow-up treatment. This is to avoid reinfection or passing the infection on to someone else.

For more information see:
NHS Choices


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