White pubic hair: Four possible causes
Nevertheless, white pubic hair can sometimes have other underlying causes that require medical attention. In this article, we look at the possible causes of white pubic hair.
Four possible causes of white pubic hair
While most cases of white pubic hair are a result of the natural aging process, a few others may require medical attention.
1. Pubic Lice
White pubic hair is likely to be a result of the aging process, but could point to more serious conditions.
Pubic lice are parasitic insects that primarily affect hair in the pubic region. They may also affect other coarse hair on the body, such as the eyelashes.
Pubic lice may cause the pubic hair to appear white even though they do not turn the hair shaft white. The eggs of these sexually transmitted parasites have a yellow-white appearance.
Adult pubic lice, which are also known as crabs due to their appearance, are grayish-white. If the infestation is large enough, the pubic region may appear white.
Other symptoms that may indicate a pubic lice infection include:
visible nits crawling through the hair
itching or burning from bites
sores from the bites
2. White Piedra
White piedra is a fungal infection of the hair shaft. This infection is caused by a type of yeast known as trichomycosis, which coats the hair in a white substance.
This type of infection can happen to any hair on the body, including eyebrows, eyelashes, mustaches, beards, and pubic hair. While it can be seen in every place where hair grows, it rarely occurs in the hair on the head.
White piedra begins just beneath the hair shaft and grows into nodules that cling onto the hair, giving it a white appearance. The nodules may feel gritty and cause the hair to weaken and break.
White piedra is rare and most often affects young women who live in temperate and tropical climates. However, it can affect anyone regardless of their age or gender.
Shaving the affected area completely is the most effective remedy and may be an option for people with white piedra in their pubic region.
However, some people with white piedra may find shaving an unsuitable solution, and they can choose to use a topical antifungal cream to treat the infection instead. Someone who has severe or persistent white piedra may need oral antifungal medications in addition to other treatment.
Aging can cause hair to turn white all over the body.
Just like the hair on the head, the hair on the rest of the body, including the pubic area, is subject to graying.
As people age, their skin produces less melanin. Melanin is the pigment responsible for giving skin and hair its color.
The hair follicles contain melanin. As people age, these follicles begin to die off, and there is less melanin in the hair.
As the follicles die and melanin decreases, the color of the hair fades to silver, gray, or white. This process happens with hair all over the body, including pubic hair.
In some cases, hair may prematurely age and gray. Again, premature graying can affect hair anywhere, including on the pubic region. Premature gray hair can be caused by:
Pubic lice is a curable affliction. Most doctors recommend treating the affected area with a medication containing permethrin. Most infections only require one treatment.
When treating pubic lice, it is also a good idea to thoroughly wash bedding, underwear, and swimwear.
While the prognosis is good for most cases of pubic lice, a person with pubic lice should be checked for other sexually transmitted infections and avoid engaging in sexual activity until the infection has been successfully treated.
Vitiligo may also cause whiteness of the pubic hair.
Vitiligo is a disease that causes the patchy loss of skin color. It can affect the skin or hair anywhere on the body, including pubic hair.
Vitiligo occurs when the parts of the skin that produce melanin die or stop producing melanin. It normally begins in areas that receive the most sun exposure, so it is uncommon for it to occur first in the pubic hair. It can start at any age, but often appears before age 20, and it can affect both men and women.
Doctors are unsure about the causes of vitiligo. However, most believe there is a genetic component, as people whose relatives have the condition are more likely to develop it.
Some researchers think vitiligo might be caused by an autoimmune condition that attacks the skin or an event, such as a severe sunburn or exposure to certain chemicals.
To diagnosis vitiligo, a doctor will likely do a skin biopsy and blood tests plus a physical exam. While there is no known cure, certain treatments can slow down the progression of vitiligo.
When to see a doctor
While it is not necessary to see a doctor for aging-related causes of white pubic hair, people with pubic hair that turns white suddenly may want to consult a doctor to rule out other causes.
Anyone with symptoms of pubic lice should see a doctor, as soon as possible. People with suspected cases of white piedra or vitiligo should also consult with a doctor, as soon as convenient.
Treatment and outlook
Treatment for white pubic hair depends on its cause. There is no treatment for white pubic hair caused by aging, nor is it possible to prevent.
However, quitting smoking and avoiding stress may help slow the aging process.
People with another cause of white pubic hair should follow the treatment plan outlined by their doctor.
Conditions that cause white pubic hair are not life-threatening, and no long-term physical side effects are expected.