With each swipe of the razor or rip of the waxing strip, the world has unwittingly been massacring one of its most familiar species. In what may be the first extinction caused by porn and string bikinis, pubic lice are disappearing from the world's nether regions. The popularity of hair removal has, supposedly, decimated the louse's habitat.
It's a great story, but does it hold up? The data on pubic lice is sparse. Since the WHO doesn't keep data on crabs, there's no way of telling if they're actually going the way of the dodo. The only "data" we have are anecdotes from health care providers who report a decline in the number of cases.
While pubic lice do die in the absence of suitable hair, their apparent decline may have a more likely cause. Why run to your doctor when you can kill the itchy vermin at home with creams or shampoos? The number of reported cases were low even before the introduction of the Brazilian wax in the late 1980s. And before you go running to the salon just in case, the small cuts caused by waxing and shaving make it that much easier to catch an STI. Pubic lice, on the other hand, transmit nothing but the heebie-jeebies.
That said, fashion has historically been no stranger to extinction. During the 1800s, the craze for elaborate feather hats brought many bird species to the edge of annihilation. But unlike the now-extinct huia or Carolina parakeet, it's doubtful that anyone will shed a tear for the loss of this itchy, itchy species. Perhaps a zoo might ironically supply a tuft of hair and some drops of blood to nurture the last herd of pubic lice on the planet. Try explaining that to the kids.
Image via the Guardian.