Sex and the City credited with ridding the world of pubic lice

'Brazilian' bikini waxing cited as precipitating decline in cases of the ancient pest

Sex and the City was good for many reasons – but now doctors are hailing Carrie, Samantha et al as the pioneers of a public health miracle – the near eradication of the pubic louse.

A sharp decline in cases of pubic lice over the past decade has astonished clinicians, with the rising popularity of “Brazilian” bikini waxing cited by most as the cause.

Now doctors from the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) have pin-pointed the moment waxing hit the mainstream, hypothesising that an episode of Sex and the City which aired in 2000 sparked the trend.

From 1997 to 2003, incidence of pubic lice dropped from 0.41 per cent to 0.17 per cent, they said, and around the world sexual health clinics have reported that the once common complaint is now extremely rare.

Sales of hair removal products, or depilatories, have increased by 7.6 per cent a year on average over the past decade, and the global industry is now worth an estimated $4.69 billion (£3.1 billion), according to London-based market analysts, Euromonitor International Ltd.

Pubic lice have plagued humanity since the beginning of history, said Dr Kun Sen Chen, one of the authors of a report to be presented at the BAD’s annual conference in Liverpool next week. Specimens have been found in the UK dating back to the 1st century AD.

The louse evolved from the gorilla louse about 3.3 million years ago, and adapted to live on areas of the human body where hair grows to a similar density as that on a gorilla. Removing pubic hair therefore destroys the lice’s natural habitat.

“What we have seen at work is the law of unintended consequences,” said Dr Chen. “In popularising hair removal Carrie Bradshaw and co. have contributed to ridding humanity of a pest that had plagued humans for millions of years. Sadly there isn’t an Emmy for that.”

“Pubic hair removal has been practised by humans for thousands of years, by cultures from all over the world, including the Ancient Egyptians,” Dr Chen continued. “However until recently, with the rise of truly global mass media, pubic lice have been able to weather changing cultural attitudes to body hair.”

The episode which apparently began it all was is Season 3 Episode 14, in which Sarah Jessica Parker’s character Carrie Bradshaw visits Los Angeles and gets a “Brazilian wax”.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

    £26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

    Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

    £24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

    Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

    £22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

    Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
    Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

    Confessions of a former PR man

    The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

    Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

    Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
    London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

    The mother of all goodbyes

    Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
    Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

    Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

    The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions