White pubic hair: Four possible causes

White pubic hair: Four possible causes

Jenna Fletcher   
by Janet Brito, PhD, LCSW, CST
Finding a white pubic hair can
be alarming, but it is not likely to be a cause for concern. In most cases, the
natural aging process leads to white pubic hair.

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

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.
3. Aging

Just like the hair on the
head, the hair on the rest of the body, including the pubic area, is subject to
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:

  • smoking
  • stress
  • genetics
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.

4. Vitiligo

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

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
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
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
Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.