Brazillian Waxes Are Endangering Pubic Lice

Pubic lice, more commonly known as crabs, are becoming an endangered species due to the Brazilian waxing and other forms of hair removal, doctors say.

Pubic lice are tiny insects that lay eggs in pubic hair. Pubic lice cause itchy skin reactions and infections. Female lice only need to mate once to be fertile for the rest of their lives. They can lay eggs daily ands with their youngs feed on human blood. A 2009 study conducted at the East Carolina University reported that pubic lice infect up to ten percent of the population. Usually people treat pubic lice with topical insecticides.

Brazilian waxes have become popular since the 1990s. More than 80 percent of US college students say they remove some or all of their pubic hair. In Sydney, Australia, the main sexual health clinic says it hasn’t treated a woman with public lice since 2008. Additionally, male cases have fallen 80 percent in the last decade, according to the The Mail Online.

The Daily Mail also reports that Ian F. Burgess, a medical entomologist with Insect Research Development Ltd. in Cambridge, England ,said, “Pubic grooming has led to a severe depletion of crab louse populations. Add to that other aspects of body hair depilation, and you can see an environmental disaster in the making for this species.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not keep track of pubic lice data because they don’t transmit diseases, so researchers have to track lice infection data from surveys and records collected by clinics.

Bloomberg News reports Richard Russell, director of medical entomology at Sydney’s Westmead Hospital, said:

“Historically, it’s been very difficult to get incidence data on pubic lice simply because people don’t like to report it. In over 40 years, I could count on two hands the number of people who had brought pubic lice in for identification and admitted to knowing what they were.”

The link between hair removal and a decrease in pubic lice was discovered by Janet Wilson, a consultant in sexual health and HIV. It was discovered while she and her colleges were observing patients at the genitourinary medicine department at the General Infirmary in Leeds, England.

Wilson told Bloomberg News, “We put the flag out, so to speak, if we see a case of pubic lice nowadays. The habitat destruction of the pubic lice is increasing and they are becoming an endangered species.”