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My rogue is a very promiscuous individual. The paladin in the party is attempting to cure him of his STDs through a nightly application of Lay on Hands.

Would the Lay on Hands feature cure pubic lice?

I have read the description of Lay on Hands, and RAW it cures diseases and poison; however, I am conflicted on whether you could consider pubic lice a disease.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Have a look at the tour and at the help center if you need any guidance about posting Q&A here! Happy gaming! \$\endgroup\$
    – Eddymage
    Commented Jun 28, 2023 at 7:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ I have to say, your party maintains a decent level of realism. \$\endgroup\$
    – enkryptor
    Commented Jun 28, 2023 at 15:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ If Cure Disease doesn't work, try Repel Insects. I'm totally serious. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 28, 2023 at 19:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ It might, but I'm not sure that having healthy pubic lice is much better than having sick pubic lice :) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 29, 2023 at 5:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ Would you consider evidence from prior editions? In 1E-3E, the cure disease ability always explicitly said it cured parasitic infections. Arguably there was an editing oversight that failed to include it later (i.e., by removing the referenced spell version). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 29, 2023 at 5:26

4 Answers 4

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Many types of internal parasite, including the egg of the red slaad and the worm of the spawn of kyuss, are explicitly described as being killed by any effect that removes disease.

However, pubic lice are homebrew and we don't know if they follow the same rules as the parasites listed above. You'll have to ask your DM.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 thank you for finding this. \$\endgroup\$
    – Senmurv
    Commented Jun 30, 2023 at 9:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ The game doesn't seem to treat infestations separately from diseases and we have multiple examples of cure disease working against infestations. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 30, 2023 at 13:59
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You know how in D&D, the "solar system" is surrounded by Crystal Spheres immersed in phlogiston?

It seems that what we consider naive medieval scientific "theory" is, in the D&D world, true. Before the invention of microscopes and the development of germ theory, people probably made no distinction between parasites and diseases. So in D&D, maybe there is no distinction.

Alternatively: Germs are just tiny bugs that live in you. If Cure Disease can get rid of them, why not lice as well?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Technically I gave two answers here. While I appreciate the upvotes, I wish I knew which one was getting the most responses! (Serves me right.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 3, 2023 at 7:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ In 5E, Phlogiston doesn't appear to be a thing anymore (where previously you'd enter the Phlogiston, you now spelljam directly from Wildspace into the Astral). But your point remains accurate. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 4, 2023 at 13:15
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Strictly reading, pubic lice are an infestation, not a disease.

In the Dungeon Master's Guide (pages 256-257) there is not any game term defining disease; there is a summary explanation and few examples that reflect everyday experiences in the real world.

From a real world point of view, an infestation of parasites could induce a disease, but the infestation itself is not a disease. Anyway, the terminology is not completely clear (see here1 for example), but strictly speaking such kind of parasites may induce diseases, but they are not the disease (see this abstract from a scientific publication).

The DM could rule otherwise

As an example of Rule 0, the DM can decide that what better suits their campaign, the tone of the party and, mainly, what is more fun for the table.

For example, they may decide that the faith of the Paladin is so strong that they can purify all the consequences of the sinful acts of their companions, such as STDs.

In my personal opinion, this could lead to really interesting role play between the group, for example if the Paladin and the Rogue have opposite views about "tavern adventuring time" or even if they are on the same page.


1 Credits to Kirt that pointed this out in the comments.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Also an Oath of the Ancients paladin may be reluctant to destroy essentially harmless creatures of nature. \$\endgroup\$
    – biziclop
    Commented Jun 28, 2023 at 9:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ As you say, the DMG does not define disease. In the real world, external animal parasites (ectoparasites) are sometimes not called a disease (as in the links you provide), but sometimes they are. Real world usage varies. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Commented Jun 28, 2023 at 14:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kirt It sounds a little bit nitpicking, but I included such information in the answer for completeness and moreover I linked an abstract that seems to clarify a little bit, imho. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eddymage
    Commented Jun 28, 2023 at 15:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Eddymage Nice use of "nitpicking" when discussing lice :) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 28, 2023 at 19:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ "they can purify all the consequences of the sinful acts of their companions, such as STDs" - It doesn't seem to have been established that promiscuous sexual activity is construed as 'sinful' in the OP's context. \$\endgroup\$
    – aroth
    Commented Jun 29, 2023 at 3:48
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Not those parasites

According to the CDC, pubic lice are not and do not carry disease. The pruritus (itchy skin) they cause is possibly a disease.

Internal parasites like cryptosperidium or intestinal worms probably are a disease.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Certainly internal parasites are more likely to be termed diseases, but external animal parasites (ectoparasites) are sometimes called diseases. Real world usage varies. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Commented Jun 28, 2023 at 14:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ D&D and related games take a somewhat broad view of what constitutes "disease". I'm not sure off hand about D&D proper, but I know that in Pathfinder 1e, addiction is considered a disease. However, paranoia, amnesia, phobias, schizophrenia, etc. are considered "insanities" which are not diseases. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 28, 2023 at 22:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ @user3553031 See: Are alcoholism and drug addiction curable diseases? \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Commented Jun 29, 2023 at 3:47

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