Pubic lice are tiny parasitic insects that live in coarse body hair, such as pubic hair. They are yellow-grey and about 2mm long. The eggs are called nits and appear as brownish dots fixed to coarse body hair. Pubic lice are different from the head lice which some people get on their scalp. Pubic lice have nothing to do with poor hygiene.

Pubic lice is common. These infections are easily passed from one person to another through close body contact or sexual contact. Both men and women can get and pass them on, and it is possible for children to get scabies through close body contact.


Some people will not have any symptoms, or may not notice the lice or eggs, so you may not know whether you or your partner has pubic lice.

It can take several weeks after coming into contact with pubic lice before signs and symptoms may appear. You might notice:

  • Itching in the affected areas
  • Black powdery droppings from the lice in your underwear
  • Brown eggs on pubic or other body hair
  • Irritation and inflammation in the affected area, sometimes caused by scratching
  • Sky-blue spots (which disappear within a few days) or very tiny specks of blood on the skin
How is Pubic lice passed on

Pubic lice have nothing to do with poor hygiene.

  • Pubic lice can be passed from one person to another by close body or sexual contact with someone who has pubic lice.
  • It may be possible for pubic lice to be spread by sharing clothing, bedding and towels.
  • They can be found in pubic hair, underarm and leg hair, hair on the abdomen and chest, beards and rarely in eyebrows and eyelashes. They do not live in the hair on the head.
  • Lice can live for up to 24 hours off the body. However, because pubic lice depend on human blood for survival, they will rarely leave the body. Pubic lice move by crawling from hair to hair – they cannot fly or jump.
Pubic lice tests

In most cases, our doctor can tell if you have pubic lice just by looking. They may use a magnifying glass to look for lice and eggs, which are very small and may not be easily visible.

Do I need to have a check-up to see if the pubic lice have gone?

It is advisable to have a check-up about a week after treatment to ensure that the pubic lice have gone. If the first treatment has not worked, you may need to try another treatment as the lice can develop resistance.

  • Treatment for pubic lice is simple and involves using a special cream. Our doctor will advise you on what treatment to use and how to use it.
  • You apply the cream to the affected area and sometimes the whole body. Some treatments can be rinsed off after 10-15 minutes; others are left on for longer.
  • To be effective, treatment needs to be repeated after 3-7 days.
  • You do not need to shave off pubic or other body hair.
  • You should wash your clothing, bedding and towels in a washing machine on a very hot cycle (50°C or higher) to kill the lice and avoid re-infection.
  • You may want to consider having a sexual health check to make sure you do not have sexually contagious infection.
  • Your sexual partner(s) should be treated at the same time even if they do not have any symptoms.