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Prevention & Control

Pubic ("crab") lice most commonly are spread directly from person to person by sexual contact. Pubic lice very rarely may be spread by clothing, bedding, or a toilet seat.

The following are steps that can be taken to help prevent and control the spread of pubic ("crab") lice:

  • All sexual contacts of the infested person should be examined. All those who are infested should be treated.
  • Sexual contact between the infested person(s)s and their sexual partner(s) should be avoided until all have been examined, treated as necessary, and reevaluated to rule out persistent infestation.
  • Machine wash and dry clothing worn and bedding used by the infested person in the hot water (at least 130°F) laundry cycle and the high heat drying cycle. Clothing and items that are not washable can be dry-cleaned OR sealed in a plastic bag and stored for 2 weeks.
  • Do not share clothing, bedding, and towels used by an infested person.
  • Do not use fumigant sprays or fogs; they are not necessary to control pubic ("crab") lice and can be toxic if inhaled or absorbed through the skin.

Persons with pubic lice should be examined and treated for any other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) that may be present.

 
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  • Page last reviewed: September 24, 2013
  • Page last updated: September 24, 2013
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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention   1600 Clifton Rd. Atlanta, GA 30333, USA
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