Sex Week: Going Crazy with Crabs?
Could crab lice be transmitted in the steam room of a gym? I assure you, I have not had sexual activity for the past six months. Somehow, I got crabs and I am embarrassed to go to my doctor. He probably won't believe me.
First of all, never let embarrassment stop you from going to the doctor. It's his or her job not to make judgments, and besides, doctors have seen all sorts of amazing things. I know! If your doctor makes you feel ashamed, then you're going to the wrong doctor.
Sexual contact is the most common method of transmitting crabs, but there are plenty of other modes. You can get crabs from sharing the clothing, bedding, or towels of an infested person. The temperature in the steam room would make it difficult for the lice to survive and hop around from one person to another, so frankly, I think you must have gotten them from another source.
Many years ago, a friend of mine told me that he once had a house guest who had shared towels with everyone in the house (which included a married couple and their three teenage children). Unfortunately, the guest had crabs, and soon, so did everyone else in the house. Very quietly a "health emergency" was proclaimed, treatment and cleaning was begun, and the house guest departed. I wonder what Miss Manners would have to say about that.
The crab louse gets its name because it looks very much like a miniature crab. Once on the body, the crabs cling between two hairs, bury their heads underneath the skin, and feed on blood. They attach their tiny black eggs to the skin at the root of hairs. The biting and moving around makes for severe itching and irritation. It doesn't take very many crabs to cause great discomfort. And they multiply very quickly.
You can get rid of crab lice just as you would head lice. One popular preparation is Kwell, which is 1 percent lindane, but it's toxic to people as well as lice. Lindane, a cousin of DDT, is easily absorbed into the skin and can cause nervous-system problems. You're better off using a newer and safer product, a cream rinse made from 1 percent permethrin. Permethrin is a synthetic version of pyrethrin, a natural insecticide from chrysanthemums. You also can use a pyrethrin insecticide.
Neem, made from a tree in India, is another natural alternative. You can find it in garden stores. Or use a treatment recommended by Kathi Keville in "Herbs for Health and Healing," adapted for the pubic area:
2 ounces vegetable oil
20 drops tea tree essential oil
10 drops each essential oils of rosemary, lavender, and lemon
Combine ingredients and first test them on the inside of your elbow for several hours. If there is no sign of irritation, then apply the treatment to your dry pubic hair. Cover the area with plastic wrap, followed by a towel. Leave these on for one hour. Then work shampoo into the hair to cut the oil, rinse, and shampoo and rinse again. You'll probably need to do this a week later to get rid of any newly hatched lice.
And don't forget to clean all your towels, bed linens, and infested clothing. You don't want to become reinfested!