Mite that be a vampire?
By Andrea Arscott, Columnist
If you’re eating, you might want to put aside your meatball sub for a few minutes while you take this in instead. Now let’s talk about tiny insects that like to call your body home. There are several types of blood-sucking critters that enjoy feeding off you, especially at night. I’m sure you’d like to know how to avoid picking them up.
The first of the blood-smoothie lovers is pubic lice, a.k.a. crabs. These teensy-weensy insects hang around your pubic hairs, as well as your armpits and other hairy areas, including your eyebrows. Pubic lice were given their nickname because they actually bear a resemblance to crabs. Like many other living creatures, they too lay eggs—at the bottom of your pubic hairs. These eggs are called nits. Not “nuts,” but “nits.”
Lost your appetite yet? You’re probably wondering how you get crabs. There are several ways to catch them, but none of them involve launching a cage into an ocean—unless you consider your genitalia to be a booby trap and your bed to be a sea of wild animals. That’s right, crabs travel from someone else’s pubes to your pubes during sexual contact. They’re also transmitted from one person to the next by sharing towels, clothing, bedding, and mattresses.
If you’ve contracted them, you’ll likely be itchy wherever they are nesting, and you’ll be able to see itsy-bitsy brownish crabs and/or tiny white eggs amongst your hairs. Don’t adopt them like pets; get to a drug store or pharmacy and buy the lotion, shampoo, or special cream to treat them, otherwise they’ll be tied to you forever.
Another infection you want to control is scabies. If you had to choose between crabs and scabies, you’d want crabs. Why, you ask? Scabies gets under your skin. They are tiny mites and they creep below the surface of your skin and lay eggs, causing you intense itching, mainly at night. Signs of scabies might include a rash in the following areas: between your fingers, on your wrists, abdomen, ankles, the bends of your elbows, or around your genitals. You may also develop sores, as a result of scratching. Because scabies look like any rash, you may need a doctor or nurse to make a diagnosis before heading to the pharmacy.
If you have scabies, the Public Health Agency of Canada recommends that you wash or dry clean everything you have touched or worn (all linens, towels, clothes, etc.) in hot water and vacuum anything else that can’t be put in a washing machine, such as your mattress and carpet. The agency also advises that if you can’t wash your bedding and clothing, to store it in sealed plastic bags (like garbage bags) for one week to kill the mites.
The BC Centre for Disease Control suggests that all sexual partners be treated and that if you shared any of the above-mentioned items with anyone else in your household, those people should be treated too. Please take precautions to prevent spreading scabies to other people and your sexual partners.
So, don’t have sex if you have scabies or crabs. Get treated. Remember, if you have sores or cuts in and around your genitals, it’s easier for HIV and hep C to enter your blood stream. Stop HIV and hep C now.
Come down to the Purpose Society testing clinic at 40 Begbie Street in New West the first and third Friday of the month from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for anonymous and rapid HIV testing, and STI and HCV testing. We also provide vaccines, free harm reduction supplies, and condoms! You can also get your questions answered by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org