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Pubic lice are very small, crab-like parasitic insects which live on the pubic hair. Pubic lice are not necessarily sexually transmitted, but are passed on through close body contact.

Unlike head lice, pubic lice don't live in scalp hair.

Pubic lice are spread through close bodily contact, most commonly sexual contact.


Having pubic lice is in no way a sign of poor hygiene. They can be passed on through any close body contact including vaginal, anal or oral sex and they may be passed on by sharing towels and bed linen (though this is much less common as lice can only survive for around 24-48 hours if not in contact with the human body).

They cannot jump like fleas or fly and they survive on human blood. Pubic lice cannot transmit HIV or other STIs.

Pubic lice are different to head lice and do not live in the hair on your head. They prefer coarser but more widely spaced hair.

Condoms will not protect you from pubic lice.


After getting pubic lice, it can take several weeks before any symptoms appear.

Symptoms people with public lice can have, include;

  • itching in the affected areas, especially at night (when the lice are most active)

  • inflammation and irritation caused by scratching

  • black powder in your underwear (this is the droppings from the lice)

  • blue spots or small spots of blood on your skin, such as on your thighs or lower abdomen (caused by lice bites)


Itching is the most common symptom of pubic lice and is an allergic reaction to their saliva.


If you think you have pubic lice, drop in, no appointment needed. Although we cannot test for pubic lice, our on site nurse will examine the area.

We suggest that you should be tested for other sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) if you have pubic lice through sexual contact.

The lice don't transmit HIV or other STIs, but a check-up is usually recommended as a precaution. 

Testing at TADIC will be done with a urine test or a swab test. The swab is something you can also do yourself.  The tests are FREE for anyone under the age of 19.


Once tested we will be in touch within 1 - 2 weeks with your results. If your test result is negative you will be texted. If you are positive, you will be invited into the clinic to arrange your treatment.  

If for any reason, you do not hear from us 2 weeks after visiting the drop centre, then please get in touch with us. 


Pubic lice will not go away without treatment and are likely to be passed to someone else. Treatment can be done at home using special types of insecticide lotions, creams or shampoo which you we can provide. 

The treatment usually needs to be repeated 7 days later to get rid of any lice that have hatched during that time.

If they are left untreated, the lice may spread to other parts of the body. The side effects can also cause other issues such as skin irritation and infections. You may find there are empty eggshells stuck to the hairs after treatment but this doesn’t necessarily mean you still have pubic lice.

To prevent reinfestation, anyone you have had close bodily contact with, including any sexual partners you have had in the past 3 months, should also be treated, even if they don't have symptoms.


Pubic lice can be caught by having close bodily contact, this is usually through sexual contact. 
As contraceptive methods will not protect you, the best preventative method is to encourage STI testing prior to having sex with a new partner. 

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