Pubic lice: an endangered species?

Sex Transm Dis. 2014 Jun;41(6):388-91. doi: 10.1097/OLQ.0000000000000142.


The incidence of pubic lice infestations is estimated to be between 1.3% and 4.6%, with an average incidence of 2% worldwide. It is also estimated that 70% to 80% of adults now remove pubic hair in part or entirety, using a variety of methods. It is hypothesized that the destruction of this pubic hair habitat may account for the falling incidence of pubic lice and may possibly lead to its eradication or atypical presentation.

Aim: To report the changing incidence of pubic lice infestation from our unit over the last 10 years and assess its association, if any, with pubic hair removal of any kind.

Methods: Assessment of medical records and questionnaires were used to identify the incidence of hair removal and pubic lice infestation over a 10-year period. Data were anonymized and analyzed to identify any correlation.

Results: A significant and strong correlation between the falling incidence of pubic lice infections and increase in pubic hair removal was observed, with a Pearson correlation r value of 0.9686 (95% confidence intervals, 0.88-0.992). The P value is less than 0.0001.

Conclusions: The increased incidence of hair removal may lead to atypical patterns of pubic lice infestations or its complete eradication as the natural habitat of this parasite is destroyed.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Esthetics
  • Female
  • Hair Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Hair Diseases / parasitology
  • Hair Diseases / prevention & control
  • Hair Removal* / trends
  • Humans
  • Hygiene
  • Incidence
  • Lice Infestations / epidemiology*
  • Lice Infestations / prevention & control
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phthiraptera*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires