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Ask Dr. K

I have some bugs that resemble pubic lice and I have been using the lice kits from Walmart to get rid of them. I have done the treatment three times and they seem to keep coming back. I've washed my clothes in hot water and vacuumed my carpet. I don't understand why I keep getting them after these treatments. Could I have something other than lice? They look like crabs and are about the size of a pencil point. Can I use vinegar, because the kit was expensive and I don't want to buy another.

Treatment of public lice requires the appropriate medicine and washing all the clothes, bed linens, jackets, etc., that may have come into contact with the lice. Things that cannot be easily washed can be stored in a bag for at least three days -- the absence of food will starve the lice. Contacts (like roommates, close friends, etc.) and sexual partners should also be treated. Re-infestation is common.

Effective lice treatments include ones with Permethrin 1% cream or Lindane 1% shampoo. Pyrethrins with piperonly butoxide are also recommended. Before you buy another kit, though, confirm with a pharmacist you're buying one of these recommended medications.

Remember that only a doctor can make a medical diagnosis. A common reason that treatment, in general, does not work is the wrong diagnosis. To diagnose pubic lice, an STD check-up may be in order.

To your health,
Dr. K

Last modified on Thursday, November 19, 2009.
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