Health And Wellness

Study Finds Over 750K Tinder Users Have This Disease

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man and woman looking at each other

Although it's popular for both men and women to get rid of all their pubic hair, pubic lice are still a problem, especially for Tinder users.

Pubic lice, or crab lice/crabs, are parasitic insects found primarily in the pubic or genital area of humans, and they feed on human blood. They usually appear with poor hygiene.

When someone has a pubic lice infestation on their body, they will experience skin irritation including raised, red lumps, and intense itchiness. Pubic lice, or body lice, are the only ones that can transmit bacterial diseases like epidemic typhus, louse-borne reoccurring fevers, and trench fever.

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Forms of Pubic Lice:

  • Nits or lice eggs, are oval in shape and usually yellow to white in color. They're hard to see, as they're firmly attached to the hair shaft.
  • Nymphs are immature lice that hatch from the nit. It takes two weeks for the nymph to become an adult.
  • Adult lice look like a miniature crabs when looked at through a magnifying lens. They're tan to grayish-white in color and have six legs, with their larger front legs resembling the pincher claws of a crab.

In a 2016 article, Dr. Cameron Webb, a scientist at the University of Sydney's department of medical entomology, says, "Estimates put the prevalence rate of pubic lice infestation in adults at around one to two percent. Rates can be a little higher in older individuals, especially men and men who have sex with men. That means about 750,000 people who use Tinder have crabs."

In other words, the chances you might have a hookup with someone with pubic lice are better than you think. It's probably a good idea to think twice before you swipe.

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"They [pubic lice] don't fly or jump," says Dr. Webb. "They move from host to host through direct contact and, for the most part, this is through sexual contact. This migration most commonly happens when lice move from hair strand to hair strand... Unlike most other sexually transmitted infections, condoms won't stop pubic lice swinging across to a new person during sex."

So if you've effectively cleaned up down there, you should be safe, right? Not necessarily.

According to Dr. Webb, "It may be true that complete hair removal will prevent pubic lice setting up home, but are all those currently sexually active bare down there? Not likely. Pubic lice have been with us for thousands of years and they'll be with us for thousands more."

One word: Gross.

How to Get Rid of Pubic Lice

With a diagnosis, doctors will prescribe a medical insecticide treatment, which is usually a cream. You should also remove all the hair you have down there to remove all the pubic lice on you, so the lice don't have anywhere to continue hiding.

And remember, when someone has pubic lice, it could be an indicator of a more sinister sexually transmitted infection, so you may want to get an STD test.

Christine Schoenwald is a writer and performer. She's had articles in The Los Angeles Times, Salon, and Woman's Day. Visit her website or her Instagram.