Crabs and Scabies
Crabs are very small bugs that attach themselves to pubic hair and bite the surrounding skin. Scabies are mites (bugs) that dig under the skin where they lay their eggs, often in the genital area. Both cause extreme itching in men and women. Both are usually passed from one person to another during sex, but can also be transmitted by having contact with clothes, bedding, and towels that have been used by an infected person. There are both over-the-counter and prescription creams available to get rid of crabs and scabies. Use as directed by your medical provider. You must also wash your clothing, bedding, and towels in hot water to avoid re-infection. Clothes that can’t be washed (i.e. leather jackets, etc.), should be stored in a sealed plastic bag for at least 72 hours.
Molluscum or m. contagiosum is a skin affliction caused by a virus that can be passed from one person to another during sex or, more commonly, other close skin-to-skin contact. It is also possible for molluscum to be passed by sharing towels. It’s commonly found in people that exercise in gyms. Symptoms include several smooth, firm, rounded bumps with a dip in the center that appear on the thighs, genitals, buttocks, below the waist, and/or in the pubic hair. The bumps may be tan, yellow, grey or pink. Molluscum will go away on its own without any treatment or complications, but if you choose, the bumps can be frozen off by a medical provider with liquid nitrogen.
Non-Gonococcal Urethritis (NGU)
Also called non-specific urethritis, this is an infection in the male urethra caused by bacteria such as chlamydia, mycoplasma, ureaplasma or trichomoniasis. NGU is passed from one person to another during anal, vaginal and possibly oral sex. Symptoms may include a mild discharge from the head of the penis and pain or burning upon urination. Female partners of men with NGU need to be treated as if they have chlamydia. Antibiotics are used to cure NGU.
This is a bacterial infection that causes serious stomach cramps and diarrhea. Shigella can easily be spread from one person to another through rimming (oral-anal contact) and from oral contact with contaminated skin including skin in the groin area, the testicles and the penis. Shigella can also be spread via fecally contaminated food and water. People with HIV are more likely to have serious complications from Shigella infections. Other bugs commonly acquired through oral-anal sex that can case stomach pain and diarrhea are the three parasites: giardia, amebiasis, and cryptosporidium, and the viral Hepatitis A. Shigella can be treated with antibiotics. Very thorough washing of your genitals and hands before and after sex can help prevent shigella and other infections, as well as using a barrier (cut-up condoms, dental dams, or household plastic wrap) for oral-anal sexual activities.
Also known as trich, this is an infection caused by a protozoa that is passed from person to person during vaginal sex. Women have more symptoms than men, most commonly a yellow-green or gray bubbly fluid coming from the vagina that often has an unpleasant odor and is itchy. A prescription drug called metronidazole will cure trichomoniasis. Do not drink alcohol while you are taking this drug as it can cause severe reactions. Your male partner(s) must be treated, too, to prevent your re-infection, even though he probably won’t have any symptoms.
Vaginitis is a name for swelling, itching, burning or infection in the vaginal area that can be caused by several different germs. The most common kinds of vaginitis are bacterial vaginosis (b.v.) and yeast, a fungus. Vaginitis is very common among women and is present when a so-called “bad” bacteria outweighs a “good” bacteria in the vagina. If there are symptoms at all, the primary ones are a gray, yellow or white fishy-smelling discharge from the vagina and itching in the vaginal area. Most of the time, b.v. does not need treatment, but if a woman is pregnant (even if she’s considering terminating the pregnancy), it is necessary to take antibiotics so that the bacteria don’t spread beyond the vaginal area. There are over-the-counter creams available to treat yeast infections, although if you are getting chronic yeast infections, it is important to see a medical provider as they can be symptomatic of other problems, including HIV infection. To prevent vaginitis, medical providers suggest wearing clean cotton underwear and loose clothing; avoiding douching, vaginal sprays, and scented vaginal products; and eating a balanced diet with moderate amounts of caffeine, alcohol, and sweets, including chocolate.