Why Pubic Lice Are Becoming Endangered

By Alan Boyle on Wednesday, November 27, 2013
head louse
“These are times of discomfort, often of suffering.” —Mark Twain, Letters from the Earth

In A Nutshell

Most people had head lice as a kid, but fewer will admit to a pubic lice infestation. The crab louse is a harmless critter, but can cause irritation if it sets up home in your groin. Having a shave or wax down there is a lot less obvious than getting a buzz cut up top, so getting rid of these annoying ectoparasites is usually easy. Yet keeping downstairs hairless is increasingly popular in general, which is bad news for little Pthirus pubis seeking to spread. Ever since Carrie Bradshaw and pals made going bald popular, crab lice have been seen less and less.

The Whole Bushel

There are a few topics most people don’t bring up with even their closest friends. Minor sexually transmitted conditions are pretty high on that list. Pubic lice infestation is probably the least harmful condition you can pick up from a partner. That’s lucky, because condoms won’t stop them and they’re one of the few conditions you can pass on by sharing clothes and towels with someone. It’s doubly lucky because they can also live in beards and eyelashes.

Like head lice (which are a different family of animal altogether), pubic lice hide among body hair. If you don’t have any hair, then there’s nowhere for the lice to hide. Logically, the increase in pubic shaving and waxing seems like it should make a difference. Research indicates that indeed it does. This little beast that has kept us company for 3.3 million years is disappearing, and the experts are pointing the finger at Sex And The City.

The British Association of Dermatologists point out that for the period 1997–2003, the numbers of reported cases in the UK has more than halved, and Australia has shown similar numbers. Other sexually transmitted diseases have been increasing over the same period, so it’s not the case that people are having less sex.

There are downsides, though. Hair removal can (and often does) break the skin, which is a risk factor for transmission of other conditions. Then there’s the chance of an ingrown hair, which is about as fun as playing host to a swarm of miniature blood-sucking insects. While the data we have looks encouraging, nobody actually bothers to track pubic lice. Lice don’t cause disease and are easy to treat, so the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, and other national bodies find keeping tabs unnecessary. That, and just talking about it is enough to make you itchy.

Show Me The Proof

NHS: Pubic Lice
British Association of Dermatologists: Was ‘Sex and the City’ the beginning of the end for pubic lice?
Bloomberg: Brazilian Bikini Waxes Make Crab Lice Endangered Species
Featured image credit: Head louse, by Jacopo Werther

  • Arjan Hut

    Let’s organise Bush-aid, a rock festival to save pubic lice!

  • CeledonaMargaretteBlanco

    Pubic lice are also called cuntstaceans

    • P5ychoRaz

      All I can think of is “lice-pubes’ which sounds like ice-cubes which is making me thirsty.

  • Tammi Thetford King

    This sounds like a perfect opportunity to utilize that ‘design your own t-shirt’ web site to rally around this cause! We need the perfect slogan! Bush-aid is great, and I’m thinking, “save the crabs on the dark side”, or a little louse holding a sign that says “Got Hair?” with a small moving van in the background. Oh, and one of those big arrows pointing down, and the statement, “in my pants is a wildlife preserve.”

    • Arjan Hut

      “When crabs go down, we all go down”

  • Hadeskabir

    If someone performs oral sex on a person with pubic lice and they go to the head of the other person, don’t they become head lice?

    • Mom424

      Different beastie. And ew.

      • Hadeskabir

        Don’t be such a purist mom.

    • Karmala

      Their “claws” grip coarser hair, they evidently can’t hold onto head hair. Although I guess that is how someone could wind up with them in their beard.

      • Hadeskabir

        I believe their new definition becomes “Pubic Head Lice”.

  • Kaydot Mcdiamonds

    I really don’t see how pubic lice becoming extinct is a problem. It’s not like Eco-systems are going to suffer…. Unless you happen to be an A grade hoe and pubic lice isn’t the only thing living in and around your genitals lol.

  • The Ou7law

    With all the activity going on in my pants they are far from becoming endangered

    • lotusplague

      Your hand can’t catch crabs so…. wrong…

      • Valkyrie

        I think they can if they are hairy hands

      • The Ou7law

        Safe sex is in the palm of your hand

  • GreySquiggles

    But…. Isn’t this a good thing?

  • Marozia

    Does this mean that they will be put on the endangered species list?

    • Valkyrie

      I hope not, can you imagine the TV campaigns to ‘save the lice’ urrghhhhhhhhhhhhh

      • P5ychoRaz

        Yeah, what would they do? Set up a preserve? Who’s gonna volunteer for that? You could call it a nut-ure preserve.

  • Valkyrie

    Gross… even when I tried to scroll as quickly as I could past the picture it was still so HUGE that I saw it …shudder….

    Pubic lice in beards and eyebrows, I am so going to vomit ..