Pubic lice mainly cling to pubic hair and underarm hair and feed on human blood. Itching and tiny bruises indicate the plague ghosts. They hardly move themselves and are pretty well hidden. The vernacular often does not mince words when it comes to the description of unappetizing things. Felt or pubic lice therefore have a number of colloquial pet names: love beetles, sack rats and fattening mastiffs are just a few of them.
Properties of the felt louse
The pet names for pubic lice, however, describe quite well some of the properties: The Filzlaus (Phthirus pubis) is transmitted in close physical contact, ie especially sexual intercourse, so feels particularly comfortable in the hair of the genital region, has six wart-like processes similar to the beetle legs and heard how this to the tribe of arthropods.
Of microbes and humans
Pubic lice are 1.5-2 mm skin parasites that like to stay where they can cling with their pliers-like claws:
- densely hairy areas with many sweat glands, ie pubic, underarm, chest and abdomen and beard hair,
- In children also hair on the head, eyebrows and eyelashes.
They prefer to sit in one place and sometimes suck blood at the same spot for hours at a time. The female lays 2-3 eggs (nits) per day, up to 200 in her lifetime, and sticks them to the shaft of coarse hair. Within a week larvae hatch out, which are fully grown after another two weeks.
During tight body contact, however, movement comes in the lazy little creature: It can suddenly cover several centimeters to enrich his menu to the blood of a new host. Up to 2 days, the louse also manages to survive without meals in bedding, clothes and towels, so it can - rarely - also be transmitted by indirect contact.
Pubic lice occur worldwide. Exact numbers are not available. According to some studies, the risk of pubic foot infection (pediculosis pubis) seems to depend less on socio-economic factors such as poverty and hygiene than on the form of sexual activity (eg frequently changing sexual partners, single, homosexuality).
Symptoms of a felt louse infestation
About 3-6 days after infection, the symptoms show: relatively low, sometimes burning itching usually in the step, especially at night in the bed heat and lens to fingernail-sized slate to steel blue discoloration (so-called Taches bleues) at the bite sites. Scratching can cause additional wounds.
Due to their immobility, the lice themselves or the nits are often only recognizable after a long look as small dark spots or with a magnifying glass. In the laundry, sometimes rust-brown spots are visible - feces of the appetizing animals.
Pubic lice: detection and therapy
The diagnosis is often made because of the typical symptoms. The lice or nits may possibly be detected microscopically. For treatment are available drugs that are applied several times from the outside to the affected regions. The nits are then removed with a fine comb. If eyebrows and eyelashes are involved, removal of lice and nits with tweezers is recommended (after pretreatment with petrolatum) as the drugs are too dangerous for the eyes. A shave or a cutting of the hair is not absolutely necessary. All persons who are in close contact with each other must be treated.
Important are general measures to safely kill the lice. These include frequent changing, decoction and hot drying of towels, bedding and underwear. If you close the laundry for three days in a plastic bag, you can certainly starve the parasites. Alternative is a dry cleaning. Combs and brushes must be placed in water at 60 ° C for 10 minutes and then in disinfectant for one hour.
In a nutshell
- Pubic lice are bloodsuckers of humans and occur worldwide.
- The transmission is mainly through direct physical contact, rarely indirectly.
- Signs are itching and bluish spots.
- Family and sexual partners must be treated.