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Itchy Penis Issue: Are Pubic Lice Common at College?

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Vinod Raina 91% (6431 ratings)
MD - General Medicine
Sexologist, Delhi  •  18 years experience
Itchy Penis Issue: Are Pubic Lice Common at College?


Going off to college is a major step in the lives of many men. It's an exciting time, but one which inevitably raises questions and concerns for guys who are "out on their own" for the first time. And with many men becoming more sexually engaged during college years, a lot of those questions revolve around penis health and avoiding embarrassing issues in this area. For example, no guy wants a seriously itchy penis - and especially when it is caused by pubic lice. So one question that arises is whether pubic lice are a common "thing" at college? And if they are, what does a guy need to do to avoid them? Or treat them, if he's not successful at avoiding them?

A college thing?

So is pubic lice a college thing? Meaning, is a guy more likely to pick up pubic lice than before or after attending college? The answer is yes - but not necessarily as much of a thing as a person might think.

To understand why, it's important to understand a little about pubic lice and the itchy penis situation they cause.

Crabs

Pubic lice are more popularly known as "crabs," mainly because the lice resemble tiny little crabs in shape. But these crabs are so small that they're very hard to see - although they do make their presence known!

Pubic lice are parasites that like to hang out on the penis, balls and general midsection area. They are most often found near pubic hair and their diet is a person's blood. Crabs are found in three stages:

- Nits, which are the eggs of the lice and are generally attached to a hair shaft. They are oval in shape, usually yellow or white, and very hard to see.

- Nymphs are the newborn lice. This stage lasts about 2-3 weeks after hatching.

- Lice are the adult version of the pest. But people usually use the phrase "pubic lice" to refer to the lice at any stage in their development.

How they spread

Pubic lice are most often spread through skin-on-skin contact, usually through sexual contact. So a man who has sex with a partner with pubic lice runs a very high risk of contracting them (and of passing them on to new partners). Because many people find a significant rise in their sexual activities when they go to college, there is a greater proportional risk of getting crabs.

In some cases, a person can get crabs through non-sexual means, such as by sharing clothing, towels, or bed linens of a person who is infected. Again, because roommates often share such items - and because, let's face it, guys at college typically don't do the best job of washing and cleaning these items! - this also increases the risk of getting crabs at college.

Prevention and treatment

The best way to prevent the itchy penis that comes with pubic lice is to avoid sexual contact with an infected person and not share their items. Wearing a condom can also offer some protection; however, since these lice often live in the crotch, this is no guarantee of safety. It also helps to regularly wash and clean clothing, bedclothes, towels and the like.

Treatment typically involves using medication (in shampoo or gel form) specifically designed for pubic lice; many over-the-counter versions work well. Thoroughly washing clothing and other possibly infested items is also required. These medications generally do a good job of killing crabs. A doctor may need to prescribe a prescription version for tougher cases.

College students who get an itchy penis due to crabs can help alleviate the itching by using a high level penis health crème (health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil, which is clinically proven mild and safe for skin). A crème with both a high-end emollient (such as Shea butter) and a natural hydrator (such as vitamin E) can help soothe the itching. One that contains a potent antioxidant (like alpha lipoic acid) helps strengthen penis skin which also diminishes itching.

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