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Lice, Crabs, and Scabies
Mar 8, 1999

I recently met a guy online and he seemed really nice and seemed very clean. We ended up having sex with each other. A few weeks later, I had a lot of itching in my groin. When I went to the doctor to find out what was wrong, I found out I had lice (crabs)! I was totally horrified! How could I have gotten this? Could I have gotten it from this guy I met online? Is lice the same thing as scabies? Is it true lice can crawl all over your body? I feel totally grossed out and totally embarrassed.

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Thank you for your question.

Lice.....crabs....scabies.....just mentioning these words gives people the creeps, and makes people shudder. Scabies are different from lice but they share many similarities. Both lice and scabies can be sexually transmitted. Let me review with you about these infections, and more importantly, how NOT to get them. I will also review with you what steps you need to take to get rid of these infections.

Lice

There are 3 types of lice:

1) body lice 2) head lice 3) pubic lice (crabs)

Head and body lice are transmitted through direct body-to-body contact and by sharing clothing (including hats).

Pubic lice are most often sexually transmitted, and transmission occurs through direct body-to-body contact. Pubic lice are mites that under a microscope resemble tiny crabs (which is where the nickname "crabs" comes from). As it's name implies, pubic lice are most often found in the pubic area. If a person is very hairy, pubic lice can also appear in other places on the body (wherever the person is hairy), but the pubic area is the most common place that these lice appear.

Pubic lice are transmitted through:

1) Sharing towels. 2) Sharing bedsheets/linens. 3) Sharing underwear. 4) Sexually through direct body-to-body contact.

Sometimes people acquire lice through sheets and towels at bathhouses, massage parlors, and similar establishments.

When a person has lice, the symptoms include:

1) Itching in the pubic area, most commonly beginning 1-2 weeks after infection, but this can vary from person to person. Itching usually begins once the eggs hatch and the live mites appear.

2) Tiny dots, often at the base of the pubic hairs (these are the lice themselves). And yes, sometimes you can actually see these mites crawling! Sometimes eggs can be seen, but these are very tiny, and can be very hard to see.

How to treat lice:

Lice can be a real hassle to get rid of! To adequately treat lice, you must do ALL of the following:

1) Get yourself treated. Over-the-counter (nonprescription) medications include Nix, Rid, and similar store brand treatments. You apply these medications to the affected areas, wait 10 minutes, then wash them off. Sometimes more than one treatment may be necessary. These medications also come with special combs to help get rid of the eggs, which can be found on the hairs. If these treatments do not work, you may need a prescription medication (called Kwell).

2) ALL of your sexual partners within the previous month must also be treated at the same time.

3) Wash all towels, bed sheets, and underwear that you have come in contact with. You can wash them in a washing machine in a normal manner, and you should then dry them in a dryer at high heat.

4) EVERYONE in your house who in the past month has come in contact with shared towels, bed sheets, etc., must also be treated.

If all of these steps are not taken, the infection will go on and on and on.

How to avoid getting lice:

1) If you see your partner scratching themselves a lot, especially in the pubic area, do not come in physical contact with them.

2) If you see little dots at the base of their pubic hairs, do not come in physical contact with them.

3) Do not share towels, bed sheets, and linens that have not been previously cleaned. This includes towels and sheets in bathhouses, massage parlors, and similar establishments.

4) Do not share clothing (especially underwear) that have not been previously cleaned.

Scabies

Scabies is another type of mite that can also be sexually transmitted. Unlike lice, the scabies mite literally burrows beneath your skin. Infection with this mite occurs most commonly between the fingers, as well as the wrists, elbows, belt line, armpits, thighs and the genitals in men. In women, the nipples, abdomen, and the lower portion of the buttocks are frequently infected as well. In infants, the head, neck, palms and soles may be involved (although these areas are not usually infected in adults).

Scabies are transmitted:

1) Primarily through direct body-to-body contact (including sexual contact). 2) Occasionally by sharing underwear. 3) Occasionally by sharing linens/bedsheets

When a person has scabies, the symptoms include:

1) Severe itching and redness to the skin, especially at night. Symptoms usually begin 2-6 weeks after infection in persons who have never had this infection before. In persons who have had this infection previously, the symptoms can begin 1-4 days after re-infection.

2) Reddish lines under the skin (where the mite burrows under the skin).

How to treat scabies:

Scabies can be a real hassle to get rid of! To adequately treat scabies, you must do ALL of the following:

1) Get yourself treated. Your doctor can give you treatments that will kill the mites and their eggs. Sometimes more than one treatment may be necessary.

2) ALL of your sexual partners within the previous month must also be treated at the same time.

3) Wash all towels, bed sheets, and underwear that you have come in contact with. You can wash them in a washing machine in a normal manner, and you should then dry them in a dryer at high heat.

4) EVERYONE in your house who in the past month has come in contact with shared towels, bed sheets, etc., must also be treated.

If all of these steps are not taken, the infection will go on and on and on.

How to avoid getting scabies:

1) If you see your partner scratching themselves a lot, do not come in physical contact with them.

2) If you see red lines under your partners skin, do not come in physical contact with them.

3) Do not share towels, bed sheets, and linens that have not been previously cleaned. This includes towels and sheets in bathhouses, massage parlors, and similar establishments.

4) Do not share clothing (especially underwear) that have not been previously cleaned.

In summary:

Having lice and scabies can be extremely embarrassing, and a real hassle to get rid of. But it is important to be treated if you have been exposed to these infections. More importantly, you should take steps to avoid getting these infections in the first place.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to e-mail me at "nvhotline@aol.com" or call me at (Nationwide). I'm glad to help!



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