There's No Proof That Pubic Lice Are Going Extinct

crab louse pubic lice

Photo: cdc

A story from Jason Gale & Shannon Pettypiece at Bloomberg has been making the rounds this week, with the itch-inducing headline “Brazilian Bikini Waxes Make Crab Lice Endangered Species.“They say:

Pubic lice, the crab-shaped insects that have dwelled in human groins since the beginning of history, are disappearing. Doctors say bikini waxing may be the reason.

Waning infestations of the bloodsuckers have been linked by doctors to pubic depilation, especially a technique popularised in the 1990s by a Manhattan salon run by seven Brazilian sisters. More than 80 per cent of college students in the U.S. remove all or some of their pubic hair — part of a trend that’s increasing in western countries. In Australia, Sydney’s main sexual health clinic hasn’t seen a woman with pubic lice since 2008 and male cases have fallen 80 per cent from about 100 a decade ago.

There’s one big problem with their report, though. The Australian data above is just about all the information they have to support their theory that pubic waxing is leading to the decline, and possible extermination of, pubic lice.

Sex and the 405 took a little time to tear apart the lousy Bloomberg analysis today:

The article starts by saying crabs are disappearing, a fact its authors never get around to corroborating. They provide interesting data about one Australian clinic that hasn’t seen a case of pubic lice since 2008 but get data from no other clinics. Later they note that crabs can be self-treated with insecticide yet fail to provide further information…

a letter in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections written in 2006 that suggests there may exist a correlation between decrease of body lice and increasing popularity of genital waxing among patients at the General Infirmary in Leeds, England. But, as we know, correlation does not equal causation.

Although waxing may be widespread in certain sections of society, there are huge swaths of the world and cultures that can’t afford a $50/month personal pube-grooming ritual.

Maybe we will have a bit more detail when the researchers publish their study in May.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.