Free «Crab Lice» Essay Sample

Crab Lice

Definition of Crab Lice

Crab Lice, also known as pubic lice, refer to parasitic insects that are found mainly in the genital parts of humans. Crab lice are sometimes found on other coarse body hair like eyelashes, eyebrows, beard, mustache, and hair found on armpits and legs (Anderson & Chaney, 2009). The symptoms and signs associated with crab lice include crawling lice, visible eggs (nits), and itching, especially in the genital areas. Crab lice are often spread via sexual contact, and are most prevalent among adults. In children, crab lice may be an indicator of sexual abuse or exposure. In addition, crab lice can be spread via contact with items like towels, bed lines, and clothing that have been utilized by an individual having crab lice (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015). Crab lice are evident in three forms, which include the egg, nymph, and adult louse. Nits are the eggs of the crab lice and are nearly invisible since they are attached to the shaft of the human hair. Nits are oval, and their color ranges from white to yellow. Crab lice eggs hatch within 6-10 days. Nymph is a crab louse that is yet to mature. Nymphs are similar to adult crab lice albeit smaller. Once hatched, it takes about 2-3 weeks for nymphs to grow to maturity (Weiss, 2009). The adult crab louse looks like a tiny crab when observed through a strong magnifying glass. Adult crab lice have six legs with two very large legs in the front similar to crabs’ pincher claws. In addition, their color ranges from grayish white to tan. Female crab lice are often larger compared to male lice. They feed on human blood for survival (Badiaga, 2012).

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History and Origin of Crab Lice

Historical and archeological evidence suggests that crab lice infestations in humans have existed for about 10,000 years. Archeological reports have proved the existence of crab lice in Medieval Britain and Roman Empire. In this regard, since biblical times, lice have been an issue of concern (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015). A number of remedies such as tobacco juice, hyssop oil, and viper broth were used for killing lice. Women made ointments using bacon grease and ashes and applied them in areas infested with lice. In addition, crab lice have been found in human remains in North America, whereby crab lice nits were found in pubic hair of a Chilean mummy aged 2000 years. In addition, a Peruvian mummy aged 1000 years also had crab lice. According to Weiss (2009), despite the fact that crab lice infestations have been present among humans for thousands of years, they have never been considered as a serious pest. In the US, during the 1960s, crab lice were labeled as an epidemic that affected people from all socioeconomic groups. This epidemic has been linked to the free love movement typified by sexual promiscuity, which resulted in an increase in the spread of crab lice. Technological advancements in epidemiology and biology have played a pivotal role in understanding the pathology and transmission of crab lice. Even though crab lice may be eliminated using chemical treatment of the infested hair, it is less likely that they will be eliminated completely. Weiss (2009) sees no hope for eradication of crab lice owing to the fact that its transmission mode is maintained through one of the most essential forms of human interaction – sexual contact.

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Prevalence and Incidence of Crab Lice

The global prevalence of crab lice is estimated at 2 percent of adult population mainly. In the United States, the annual prevalence of crab lice is estimated to be 3 million of new cases each year. In addition, the overall incidence rate of crab lice in the US is 1.1% (1 in 90) (Anderson & Chaney, 2009). Nevertheless, it is imperative to note that this is likely to be an underestimation because of the fact that the infestations remain underreported due to the social stigma associated with it. For instance, the assumption that any form of lice is associated with poor personal hygiene contributes to underreporting. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2015), this social stigma plays a crucial role in facilitating the transmission of crab lice infestation. People having crabs are often unwilling to share their predicament with others.

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Demographics of Crab Lice

Crab lice infestation occurs in all parts of the globe and affects people from all ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic groups (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015).

Causes and Risk Factors

The transmission of crab lice happens mainly through sexual activity, which involves crab louse moving from the pubic area of the host person to the partner’s pubic hair. Oral sex has also been established to cause infestation of crab lice in the scalp, chest and face hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes. In addition, crabs may be acquired by sharing clothes, towels, blankets, and sheets with infested people (Leone, 2007). Another cause of crab lice is poor personal hygiene. In addition, close and crowded living conditions have also been associated with infestations. Because of the fact that crab lice are usually transmitted via intimate or close contact, crab lice infestation is considered a sexually transmitted disease. Crab lice diagnosis may indicate a potential STD. In the case of children, having a parent infested with crab lice is a risk factor (Lyn, 2014).

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Disease Pathology

Lice infestation is a common phenomenon among animals. Occasionally, humans are infested by lice as accidental hosts. Human lice are capable of surviving under any climatic conditions. Moreover, they survive by sucking blood. They have no wings but three pairs of legs, with each leg having a claw-like talus at the end for grasping purposes (Badiaga, 2012). The shape and size of the claws of human lice are adapted to the shape as well as the texture of the hair and clothing fibers they are attached to. In addition, the mouthparts of the human lice have six hooklets that facilitate their attachment to the skin when feeding. The crab lice derived its name from its large claws on its front that make it resemble a carb. The relatively large claws play a crucial role in enabling the crab lice to have a good grasp of the coarse pubic hairs found in the axillary, perianal, and groin areas. Heavy crab lice infestation can also include peripheral areas of the scalp, axillary and facial hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes (Leone, 2007). When attaching themselves to human hairs, crab lice are less active and mobile when compared to body and head lice, and others. Moreover, crab lice are unable to survive outside the human host for at least one day. Their eggs are attached to the shaft base of human hair or clothing fibers. The nits attach themselves using very strong and insoluble cement, which increases the difficulty of removing the eggs. The clinical manifestation of crab lice comprises intense itching, which is caused by the human reaction to the proteins found in louse saliva. Failing to treat crab lice infestation results in the infested area becoming more sensitized (Weiss, 2009). Persistent scratching may cause secondary infections, and occasionally swollen lymph glands because of bacterial infection. Failing to treat infestations in the eyelashes leads to swelling and inflammation of the eyelids. In most cases of crab lice infestations, a slate coloration is a characteristic feature of the feeding site, which covers about 0.2-0.3 centimeters in diameter (Badiaga, 2012). This discoloration is attributed to the modified human blood pigments, or the human body’s response to the substance contained by the saliva of a louse.

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Treatment/Management of Crab Lice

Crab lice can be treated using mousse having piperonyl butoxide and pyrethrins, or lice-killing lotions having 1 percent permethrin. These lotions can be purchased over-the-counter at a local pharmacy without the need to have a prescription (Badiaga, 2012). These lotions are considered effective and safe when utilized in accordance with the instructions found on the package. Crab lice and nits can also be killed by lindane shampoo; this one is prescribed. Nevertheless, it is not recommended to use lindane shampoo as a first option. Lindane lotion has been found to be toxic, especially to the brain as well as parts of the nervous system. It should not be used by patients who are not able to tolerate other medicines that are less risky. Moreover, lindane shampoo should not be employed to treat people having irritated skin, weighing not more than 110 pounds, the elderly, children, breast-feeding women, pregnant women, and people having seizure disorder (Rapini, Bolognia, & Jorizzo, 2007). Another prescribed medication that is used for killing crab lice and its eggs is malathion lotion 0.5% (Ovide); nevertheless, this lotion is yet to be approved by the Federal and Drug Administration for treating crab lice. It is imperative to note that, during treatment, one must refrain from sexual contact until crab lice are eliminated. In addition, the laundering of clothing and bedding is a necessary precondition. If there is no improvement after 3-7 days of treatment, a second one can be initiated (Badiaga, 2012). The spread of crab lice takes place mainly through sexual contact; as a result, it is imperative for people who have had sexual interaction with the patient having crab lice infestation during the last month to be examined, diagnosed, and treated. Furthermore, sexual contact should be avoided in the course of treatment. A strong correlation has been reported between sexually transmitted diseases and crab lice; therefore, it is recommended that patients having crab lice be diagnosed for STDs.

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Health Promotional Activities to Prevent the Onset or Lessen the Impact of the Disease

Treatment failure has been mainly associated with non-compliance. Therefore, patient education that focuses on providing them with comprehensive instructions about the timing and application of medications is crucial in lessening the impact of crab lice (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015). A significant number of patients are likely to benefit by having an understanding of the life cycle of crab lice as well as the limitations associated with medical therapy. In addition, complying with the need for re-treatment during 7-10 days can be enhanced if patients have an understanding of such a necessity in order to eliminate newly-hatched nymphs. It is also imperative to address the issue of social stigma associated with crab lice infestation. The community has to address the issue in an open and honest manner in order to prevent persistent infestation. Crab lice can be a community-wide issue; therefore, infested people must be treated in order to eliminate the parasites (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015).

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At the individual level, a number of steps can be taken to control and prevent the transmission of crab lice. First, all persons who have had sexual contact with an infested individual should be diagnosed and treated accordingly. Secondly, an infested individual should refrain from sexual contact with his/her partner until after he/she has been examined and treated, and then re-examined in order to ensure that there is no persistent lice infestation. Third, beddings and clothing of the infested individual should be washed in hot water of about 130o F. Finally, towels, bedding, and clothing of an infested individual must not be shared (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015).

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