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Ask the Resident (Sex) Advisor

The Resident Sex Advisor answers sex-related questions from college students

Dear RSA,
My roommate goes out with a lot of different girls. He apparently picked up crabs from one of them. He used some special soap and said he got rid of them, but now I'm starting to feel all itchy too. Am I just being paranoid? It's not like I ever touched him or anything, or wore his underwear. Could his fleas have hopped onto me?
Tad, U. of Michigan

Just the mere mention of crabs, otherwise known as pubic lice, is enough to make a lot of people's skin crawl. So it may be your imagination. Still, if you're living in a tiny room together, it's not out of the question that some of his crabs or their eggs (nits) found their way over to your stuff. Crabs need blood to survive, but can live off the body for 24 to 48 hours. They can also be passed by sharing towels or bedding. They reproduce at a mad rate, so it only takes a couple to cause a big problem in your pants.

To find out if you've got the bugs, take a good look at your pubes, preferably with a magnifying glass. Crabs are pretty big and ugly, so if you've got them you should be able to spot them, or their nits, which are small ovals attached to your pubic hair shafts. The good news is that they're pretty easy to treat and are more of an annoyance than a danger. They don't transmit HIV or anything else nasty like that.

If you do have them, you need to get treated with a lice-killing shampoo, like Rid or Nix. You can get these over the counter at a drugstore or at your campus health center. You also need to wash all your towels, bedding, and clothing to get rid of any crabs and nits hanging around. Make your roommate pay for your lice-shampoo and dry-cleaning bills, since he brought in the unwanted guests.

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