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Curing Crabs

By Jennifer Cunningham
Quick Tips

  1. Don’t try on underwear – Crabs can live up to 24 hours without a warm body to cling to.
  2. Don’t share with an infected person – Okay, perhaps it’s just common sense, but if a house guest seems to be itching too much down there, sleep on the sofa and don’t share clothes. I know you’ve all seen Sex and the City.
  3. Beware when giving oral sex — These critters are even able to infest eyelashes! Ugh!
  4. Watch where you sit – Though it rarely happens, people have been infected by sitting down on contaminated toilet seats! Use a sanitary guard if there’s one available.
  5. Be aware – Knowing these parasites are out there is half the battle. Get more info at the National Institute of Health.

Yes, the idea of crabs is funny. The reality, on the other hand—not so much. Safety-wise, responsible sex practices aren't any different than they were in college (i.e., cover your stump before you hump), except now there is a significantly larger pool of people with a greater wealth of sexual experience to possibly get STDs from. Though crabs don’t have quite the same cachet as the clap or inspire the same fear as HIV, they are a serious issue that needs some less than serious attention.

Since appearing on Earth 70,000 years ago, the pubic louse (not to be mistaken for its cousins the body louse and the head louse) has caused mammoth crotch itch for millions, from cavemen to college kids. Crabs get their name from the fact that under a very strong microscope, the little critters resemble crabs—a pretty terrifying thought if you think of them infesting your nether region en masse.

Generally, pubic lice like to eat at night, attaching their pinchers to hair follicles before feeding on your blood like randy little ticks. The itch from hell is what separates pubic lice from other common sexually transmitted diseases, like chlamydia or genital warts. Like your last boyfriend, “crabs” are parasites that cannot live without being attached to a live host. And these mites don’t discriminate.

So how can people protect themselves from this scourge? Not much besides abstinence, prayer, or examining a sex partner’s pubes with a magnifying glass before every session. Condoms don’t help either, according to Beth Collitt, a spokeswoman for Penn State’s University Health Services. Neither the Centers for Disease Control nor the National Institutes of Health keeps tabs on how many people are infected in the U.S., but across the pond in England, crabs are scuttling their way onto more and more college students every year. According to British newspaper reports, St. John’s College at Oxford University was nicknamed “Crabs College” after 10 percent of the school’s 400 students were afflicted.

What to do if it’s itchin’

  • Stop excessively shaving and washing down there. Nothing gets crabs off except medicine.
  • Call a doctor! A doctor’s advice is the best treatment for any sexually transmitted disease. They’ll probably prescribe an insecticide that’s combed into pubes. Not seeing a doctor may cause the crabs to get worse or trigger a secondary infection from all that scratching.
  • Too embarrassed to seek medical help? Then drive to a pharmacy out of town for an over-the-counter lice killer like RID Lice Killing Shampoo.
  • Wash all underwear, bedding and towels for at least 20 minutes in hot water.
  • Thank God it wasn’t something permanent, like herpes.

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