Pubic hair loss is not harmful to a person's physical health, but it may cause psychological distress. Some people may also feel concerned about the underlying cause of pubic hair loss.
This article lists the potential causes of pubic hair loss. We also outline the various treatment options available and provide information on when to see a doctor.
The following are some potential causes of pubic hair loss.
1. Excessive hair removal
Frequently removing hair might permanently damage the hair follicles.
Hair removal methods that could lead to general pubic hair loss include:
As a result, a person who excessively removes hair from the pubic region may experience reduced or delayed hair growth in that area.
2. Hormonal changes
Hormones are chemical messengers that control many functions in the body, including hair growth.
During puberty, an increase in hormones called androgens triggers the growth of pubic hair
As a person ages, their body begins to produce fewer androgens. This may result in pubic hair loss.
3. Frontal fibrosing alopecia
Alopecia is a blanket term for conditions that cause hair loss. A type of alopecia called frontal fibrosing alopecia (FFA) can affect hair on various parts of the body.
Scientists do not yet know the cause of alopecia. However, some suggest that it may be due to the immune system mistakenly attacking the hair follicles. Hormones are also likely to play a role since FFA mainly affects people over the age of 50 who are in the postmenopausal stage of their lives.
Most females with FFA also experience hair loss on their scalp. Hair loss in this area typically appears along the hairline.
Some women may also lose hair from other parts of their bodies, including the pubic region
4. Atrophic vaginitis
Atrophic vaginitis refers to changes in the tissues of the vulva and vagina that occur as a result of decreased estrogen levels. This condition is common among those experiencing menopause when estrogen levels begin to decline.
When someone has atrophic vaginitis, the tissues of the vulva and the lining of the vagina become thin, dry, or inelastic. Women who have this condition may also develop sparse pubic hair.
Other possible symptoms include:
- patchy skin redness
- shrinkage of the vaginal tissues
- small tears in the vulva
- labial fusion, which is where the skin either side of the vaginal opening joins together
Chemotherapy medications are drugs that doctors commonly use to treat cancers. These drugs work by targeting and destroying cells that multiply rapidly, such as cancer cells.
Hair cells also multiply rapidly. As a result, chemotherapy medications can cause a person's hair to fall out. Hair loss may occur anywhere on the body, including the pubic region.
Some additional side effects of chemotherapy treatment (chemo) include:
People who experience any side effects from chemotherapy should report them to their cancer care team. A doctor may be able to prescribe medications to alleviate some of the side effects of chemo.
6. Radiation therapy
Radiation therapy is another type of cancer treatment that can cause hair loss. The most significant hair loss usually occurs in that is receiving treatment. People who receive radiation treatment to the pelvis may experience hair loss in the pubic region.
Lower radiation doses usually cause temporary hair loss, while higher radiation doses may result in permanent hair loss. A person can ask their cancer care team about the type of hair loss they are likely to experience.
Apart from localized hair loss, other early side effects of radiation therapy include skin changes, and fatigue.
The treatment for pubic hair loss depends on its underlying cause.
Frontal fibrosing alopecia
There is currently no cure for FFA. However, certain anti-inflammatory medications may help to suppress the immune system and reduce inflammation of the hair follicles. These include:
Certain medications can also help to promote hair growth. These include:
- finasteride (Proscar, Propecia)
- topical minoxidil (Rogaine)
- topical calcineurin inhibitors, such as tacrolimus (Protopic) or pimecrolimus (Elidel)
Estrogen replacement therapy is the primary treatment for this condition, but for people who want to avoid hormone therapy, some moisturizers, lotions, and vaginal lubricants may help to manage some of the symptoms of atrophic vaginitis. However, a person should talk to their doctor about specific treatments for pubic hair loss.
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy
People who receive chemo or low-dose radiation therapy may find that their hair grows back once they finish these treatments. People who receive high-dose radiation therapy may experience permanent hair loss.
People who are receiving cancer treatment may benefit from counseling or group therapy sessions. Although they will not cure hair loss, they may help people to manage the emotional effects of hair loss.
A person who experiences pubic hair loss can take steps to care for the hair they do have. This may involve:
- avoiding excessive hair removal
- avoiding rubbing the hairs, for example when using a towel to dry the area
- applying conditioners to pubic hair to reduce the risk of breakage in newly growing hairs
If a person is uncertain why they are losing pubic hair, they should consider talking to a doctor. The doctor may examine their skin and remaining hair for signs of damage. They may also carry out tests to see if the hair loss is due to an underlying medical condition.
People should talk to their doctor if they experience psychological distress as a result of hair loss. The doctor may refer the person for psychotherapy. A therapist can teach people techniques to better deal with the emotional impact of hair loss.
There are many potential causes of pubic hair loss. Examples include excessive hair removal, hormonal changes, alopecia, and side effects of medical treatments.
The treatment a person receives will depend on the underlying cause of their hair loss.
A person should see a doctor if they are concerned about the underlying cause of their pubic hair loss and to discuss any psychological distress they feel as a result of it.