Small blue or red spots on the skin could be a sign of crabs

Facts about sexually transmitted diseases

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Sometimes sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can be passed on without showing any signs. However, they can also bring with them painful and uncomfortable symptoms. As with any medical condition it is best to seek help as soon as you notice something is wrong.

Pubic lice, which are also referred to as crabs, are tiny insects that live in body hair – including around the genitals.

Therefore, they are often spread through sexual contact.

According to the NHS, a common sign of crabs is “small red or blue spots” on the skin.

These are caused by lice bites.

However, you could also experience itching, which is “usually worse” at night.

Other signs to look for include:

  • White/yellow dots attached to your hair (lice eggs)
  • Dark red or brown spots in your underwear (lice poo)
  • Crusted or sticky eyelashes, if they’re affected.

The NHS recommends seeing a GP or going to a sexual health clinic if you think you have crabs as they do not go away without treatment.

Once there, the doctor or nurse will check your hair for lice.

“They may check your pubic hair around your penis or vagina and any other areas that could be affected, such as your armpits, chest or eyelashes,” the NHS explains.

“To help spot any lice, they might use a comb and a magnifying lens.

“If they think you might have caught the lice during sex, they may ask about your sexual partners.

“They may also suggest getting tested for any sexually transmitted infections (STIs).”

Medicated creams or shampoos are needed to kill the lice.

To stop the spread of the lice and to stop them coming back you should wash clothes and bedding on a hot wash (50C or higher).

Or you could get them dry cleaned, or put them in a plastic bag for at least a week.

You should also vacuum your mattress to get rid of any lice.

While you have lice and during treatment you should not share clothes, bedding or hygiene products with other people or have close body contact.

Condoms and other contraception will not stop the spread of crabs, but this is advised to prevent other STIs.

The NHS adds: “The only way to avoid getting them is to avoid having sexual contact (or sharing bedding or clothing) with anyone you know who has pubic lice, until they’ve been treated.”

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