Please note Sandyford clinics will be shut on Monday 28th September 2020 for public holiday.
Pubic lice (‘crabs’) is a common infection that affects pubic hair and surrounding skin. Less frequently it can involve hair in the armpits, eyebrows, eyelashes and beard hair.
The most common symptom is an itch. The itching can take 1-3 weeks to begin after you are infected. You may also be able to see the tiny lice, or small black dots on your skin.
The infection is usually transmitted by prolonged physical contact, for example those sharing a bed or sexual contacts, but can occur less commonly by touching an infected person. They only affect humans and can’t be caught from or passed on to animals.
Treatment is simple. It involves applying a cream/liquid insecticide to all body hair including the beard and moustache if necessary. This should not be applied to the eyelashes/brows. Vaseline (yellow soft paraffin) should be applied to the eyelashes twice daily for 8 days. This works by suffocating the lice and avoids any risk of eye irritation from the insecticide.
A second application of insecticide should be used 1 week later.
It is advised that you re-examine yourself after 1 week and use a small eyelash comb to remove any dead eggs.
Clothes and bedding should be washed in warm water greater than 50°C.
Treatment is almost always successful. The most common cause for treatment failure is forgetting to apply the cream to areas such as hair in-between the buttocks, hair below the tummy button and under the arms.
The treatment kills the lice and eggs very quickly however the itch may continue for a few days. This does not mean that the treatment has failed.
We would also strongly advise you to avoid close body contact with others until you have finished the second treatment.
In addition anyone who you have been in close contact with or any sexual partners should be treated at the same time, otherwise you may become re-infected.
Scabies is an infection by a mite which burrows into the skin and lays eggs.
The most common symptom is of itch which can be severe and often worst at night. A rash which is typically bumpy and red usually appears after the itch and can occur anywhere on the body. Burrows made by the mites may also be visible as fine silvery lines usually on the loose skin between the fingers, inner surface of the wrists and hands.
The rash and itch can take between 2-6 weeks to occur after you are infected.
The infection is usually transmitted by prolonged physical contact, for example those sharing a bed or sexual contacts.
Scabies infection will not resolve without treatment. An insecticide lotion should be applied to all the body including genitals, navel, skin under nails, under the foreskin, between buttocks and the soles of the feet. Do not wash your hands after using the treatment. If you do wash your hands re-apply the lotion to the washed area.
The treatment should be repeated after 7 days.
Mites can live outside the human body for up to 36 hours so all bedding, towels and clothes should be washed at greater than 50°C after the first application of treatment. Alternative options to kill mites on fabrics are: ironing the item with a hot iron, dry cleaning, or putting items in a dryer on the hot cycle for 10-30 minutes.
Even with successful treatment you may remain itchy for 2-3 and sometimes even up to 6 weeks. Anti-histamines can be effective in helping your symptoms. Some creams or lotions may also be effective. Your doctor, nurse or pharmacist should be able to advise you on what to use.
All household members and close contacts should be treated even if they have no symptoms as it can take up to 6 weeks for symptoms to occur. Everyone who is treated should be treated on the same day to prevent re-infection.
You should avoid further close contact with others until you have finished your treatment.