Crabs or pubic lice usually spread through contact, sexual or otherwise, or from sharing infected garments and beddings for example. Besides the pubic area, these parasites can also infest the armpits and even the eyelashes.
Crabs cause intense itching in the infested area and may be the cause of other infections if you scratch the area and expose the skin. You could of course seek medical attention for the condition, but in the majority of cases some established home remedies for crabs will be all you need (and likely prefer!) to fight the infestation.
After you have treated the infestation, a rigorous operation for cleaning and washing your linens and beddings will usually be required to ensure that you do not get re-infected by the parasites because the treatments are guaranteed to kill the crabs but may not kill their eggs, or nits.
Dos and Don’ts
Before we look at the home remedies, here are some things you need to take note of. The itching will be quite intense but you should desist from scratching yourself, as this can cause secondary infection from other parasites that enter your body through the broken skin. To safeguard against this you should in fact cut your nails short. We know we said to desist from scratching yourself, but nobody expects you to sit like a dummy and wait out the pain. The itching may get to be so intense you will probably find it irresistible to scratch yourself. Just remember to keep those nails short.
The other thing about scratching yourself is that the nits, or eggs, of the crabs could lodge under your nails and from there infest another part of the body. If you have scratched yourself it is recommended to wash yourself with warm water and a medicated, antiseptic soap to safeguard against possible secondary infections.
Shaving the infested area may sound like a good idea, but you shouldn’t shave. The reason for this is that the area is already tender and probably inflamed and shaving could cause more damage and break the skin in places. Just clip the pubic hair short to expose the crabs and make it easier for the home remedies to get at them.
Home Remedies for Crabs
The home remedies fall into three categories: those that fight the crabs, those that relieve the itching and those that prevent secondary infections.
A mixture of vinegar and water in equal amounts kills the crabs. You mix a fair volume of the solution, say half a liter. Then you wet a large swab of cotton wool with the vinegar-water solution and press this swab against the infested area for at least 30 minutes. If necessary you should apply more vinegar-water solution to keep the swab wet. After the 30 minutes the crabs should be dead. The next thing is to remove their nits or eggs and you do this by scrubbing the area with a thick paste made from lemon juice (a few tablespoonfuls), salt, sugar and honey.
Gently scrub the infected area with this paste to clean it and rid it of the nits. In case the crabs have infected other parts of your body you should soak your whole body in a vinegar-water solution. In this case you mix the whole bottle of vinegar with the bath water, enough to submerge all the body. Soak in the tub for some 30 minutes. After the bath you should use the lemon scrub as before, but this time scrub your whole body.
Margosa (or Neem Tree) Leaves
You boil a handful of Margosa leaves in a pan and add the infusion to your bath water. Margosa has antiseptic properties. After the bath (soak for at least 30 minutes) you use the lemon scrub to clean the body and remove the nits.
The jelly kills the crabs by suffocating them, and it is especially good for applying to the eyebrows and eyelashes if these have been infested. Apply a liberal amount of the jelly to the infested area and leave it on for some hours. You may have to repeat the treatment 2 or 3 times a day. To clean it off you can use tea tree shampoo or dish washing liquid. For removing the nits use lemon scrub or a fine-tooth comb.
How to Stop the Itching
Bathing the area with oatmeal, milk or aloe vera can relieve the itching. After bathing the body you can dust cornstarch over the infested area to soothe the itching, or you could use baby powder. Calamine lotion is also effective after a bath to relieve the itching.
Tea tree oil, commonly used for treating acne and nail fungus, and peppermint oil are good for soothing the bites from the insects and preventing secondary infections. Peppermint has a cooling effect on the infested area in case it is inflamed.
Special Shampoos and Lotions for Killing Crabs
This may not be your preliminary choice of treatment if you are the self-conscious type, but a number of over-the-counter lotions and shampoos designed to kill lice and crabs are available in the drug shops, and you could ask at the local drug store. The active ingredient in these lotions and shampoos is pyrethrin or permethrin, which is a pesticide. Examples of the lotions are Nix, Rid, Clear, Genitrex etc. In some cases, when you use the shampoos and lotions, you may need to repeat the treatment after a week or so for good measure in case any crabs or nits escaped the first application of the lotion. But, because these lotions have a pesticide in them you should not apply the lotion again earlier than the 7 to 10 days. Instructions for using the lotion or shampoo can usually be found on the package.
Once you have treated the crabs you need to make sure you do not get re-infested. Even one nit that escapes the treatment can quickly multiply and infest a part of your body. To prevent this you have to wash all clothing you used during and a little before the treatment. This means blankets, sheets, linens and towels. Wash the clothing in hot water (at least 54 C) and soap, and then dry them at high heat for 20 minutes. Any un-washable items should be dry-cleaned.
If you have a sexual partner you should tell them about the crabs so they can treat themselves, and avoid any sexual activity until the infestation has been treated.
Crabs could infect you in any number of ways: through sexual activity, by coming into contact with infected beddings for example, or through casual contact with an infected person. Still, most people that get infected find the condition embarrassing, to say the least (If you’ve had to scratch your pubic area in public you will know what we’re talking about) and for this reason you may find it uncomfortable talking to a medical professional about the condition and prefer instead to use home remedies for crabs. In most cases these remedies will work for you, and you may not need the attention of your doctor or medical professional.