It’s prime swimming time during the month of July in many different locations, which also means it’s time to show off that new swimsuit and beach body.
If you’re keeping up with the latest trends, you may be wearing a bikini or another swimsuit that shows a lot of skin, which means there is the chance of pubic hair showing if you don’t remove it.
You may decide to take a trip to your local salon or wax center to endure a bikini line wax, or even go for a full pubic hair removal with a Brazilian wax.
Unfortunately, there are some known risks to the beloved Brazilian wax that your wax specialist may not choose to inform you of:
1) Hair removal "down there" can actually take away a layer of protection against bacteria, according to Dr. David Bank, the director at The Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic & Laser Surgery in New York.
2) There can be health consequences for any type of hair removal technique, according to the Sutter Health Palo Alto Medical Foundation. Some consequences include itching, bumps, blisters, pimples, genital infections, ingrown hairs and folliculitis.
3) A small French study, reported in Livescience, found that waxing was associated with the appearance of a skin infection called molluscum contagiosum. While the researchers cannot prove that removal of pubic hair actually contributed to getting the skin infection, they did feel that “removing pubic hair may increase the risk of catching certain skin infections through sex.”
4) Besides possibly contracting molluscum contagiosum, people who wax may be putting themselves potentially more at risk for catching other STDs or infections, such as the incurable herpes virus, which are more transmissible after any trauma to the skin.
5) During and after waxing, you may experience pain, bleeding, redness and irritation. (I know from personal experience that a Brazilian is no walk in the park.) Ingrown hairs are common and can lead to discomfort and red bumps filled with pus, as well.
6) Sometimes there are severe cases of infection after a Brazilian wax. According to an article in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, one woman had severe complications after her waxing session. She contracted the life-threatening Streptococcus pyogenes and the herpes virus. However, her immune system may have been compromised as she had poorly managed type 1 diabetes.
If you’re not scared enough yet to avoid taking the plunge and getting a Brazilian this summer, here are some tips to help improve your waxing experience:
1) The more you consistently remove hair from the hair follicle, the better results you will see because the hair and follicle will weaken, leading to fewer and finer hair, according to Becky Bjorklund, a cerologist (expert in wax), licensed esthetician and studio manager at Waxing the City. She recommends getting waxed every four to six weeks.
2) Look for studios/centers that offer wax for more sensitive skin. For example, at Bjorklund’s studio, she uses a hard wax, which adheres to the hair, not to the skin as soft wax does.
3) Bjorklund suggests exfoliating every two to three days to remove any dead skin cells sitting on the surface, leading to a clean and smooth surface. When the hair begins to grow back, there should be fewer issues with ingrown hairs.
4) After exfoliating, make sure to moisturize your skin with lotion, especially if you have dry skin, she added.
5) Make sure to go to a clean salon, where tools and supplies used are cleaned properly to avoid any health issues such as STDs, Bank cautioned. This will require some research.
6) Don’t use an exfoliating scrub immediately after waxing, because the skin is already irritated and sensitive, Bank said. Once the skin calms down, exfoliating can help prevent pore blockage, which can lead to ingrown hairs.
7) Avoid shaving between wax treatments, because that may lead to ingrown hairs and prevent a smooth wax session next time, Bank recommended.
8) When visiting a wax center, make sure the wax, facility and technician are clean, Bank said. The technician should provide a clean, fresh sheet of paper for you to lie down on.
9) The wax technician should wear a new, clean pair of disposable gloves during the wax session, Bank said.
10) The technician should grab a new tool each time they dip into the wax pot, which means no double dipping. The pot and are should also be clean, Bank advised.
Bank, David. Email interview. July 9, 2015.
Winters, Leigha. Sutter Health Palo Alto Medical Foundation. Pubic Hair Removal: Shaving. Possible Consequences. Web. July 10, 2015.
Rettner, Rachael. LiveScience. Could Brazilian Waxing Increase STD Risk? Web. July 10, 2015.
Dendle, Claire and Mulvey, Sheila et al. Clinical Infectious Diseases. Volume 45, Issue 3. Severe Complications of a “Brazilian” Bikini Wax. Web. July 10, 2015.
Bjorklund, Becky. Email interview. July 3, 2015.
Reviewed July 10, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith