Female sex workers

Pubic lice

What are pubic lice?

  • Pubic  lice are small yellow white insects of about 3 millimetres.  
  • They live on the skin in places where there is a lot of hair and where it is warm and moist. 
  • Therefore they are often in your pubic hair or perineum, but also in underarm hair, chest hair, a hairy belly button or the inside of your thighs. 
  • Pubic lice cannot jump and without host they can only survive two days. 
  • They lay eggs (nits) that they stick to hairs, near the place where the hair comes out of the skin.  
  • The eggs do not necessarily have to be on your body to stay alive and they come out after one week.

What causes pubic lice?

  • During sexual contact pubic lice can go from one partner to the other.  
  • You can also get pubic lice from just lying against someone with pubic lice, by wearing his or her clothes or using his or her towel.  
  • Even if you use the same bed shortly after another person, it is possible that a pubic louse left in the bed ends up with you.

What are the complaints?

  • Pubic lice slowly crawl around on the skin and the hair roots.  
  • They live from blood and their bites cause itching.  
  • The irritation and scratching may turn the skin red and it becomes infected.  
  • Pubic lice leave red brown faeces behind.  You can sometimes see this on your skin or in your underwear.


  • At the pharmacy you can buy special sprays or creams.  
  • Use them as mentioned on the information leaflet.  
  • A pubic lice infection is an STI for which a condom does not help.  
  • Pubic lice don’t disappear by rinsing with soap or sitting in a hot bath for an hour.  
  • Only the correct medicines help. 
  • All the clothes you have worn before the treatment and all the bed linen have to be washed at 60° or more.  Mattress and pillows must be aired well.
  • After a careful treatment the pubic lice are gone.  
  • Often a few wounds remain or your skin is still irritated.  This may cause itching for some time.  
  • So, itching does not always mean that the pubic lice are still there.  Yet it is best to check one week after the second treatment (against nits) to see whether all lice and nits are gone.

Work advice

  • Don’t work the week of the treatment.  
  • In case of a serious infection, the treatment has to be repeated after 1 week.