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What Are the Symptoms of Crabs?

The main symptoms of crabs are red, micro bite marks and itching around the genitals. Also known as pubic lice, these tiny parasites attach themselves to pubic hair and feed off human blood. You can get them if you’ve had sexual contact with someone who’s infested or through sharing clothing, bed linens, or towels.

Signs of Crabs

Signs that you might have a crab infestation include:

  • Itching around the pubic area, often worsening at night. The crabs’ bites trigger an allergic reaction that causes itchiness starting about five days after they first infest your hair.
  • Whitish, oval-shaped eggs (known as nits) attached to the base of your pubic hairs.
  • Tiny white or tan lice crawling in your pubic hair or, less commonly, coarse armpit or facial hair. If you look at them under a magnifying glass, they resemble the crabs you’d find on the beach, with six legs and two larger arms.
  • Dark spots and bumps around the pubic region where you’ve been bitten.
  • Tiny blood marks on your underwear from scratching affected areas.

Other Ways to Know You Have Crabs

If you’re not sure you’re experiencing signs of crabs, have your health care provider examine you for bite marks and identify the lice using a magnifying glass or a microscope. The itching and signs of a crab infestation typically disappear a week after starting treatment with a medicated lotion or shampoo. If they don’t, you’ll need to do a second round of treatment.

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