Taking pride in one’s appearance can mean different things to different people. For some, it’s being well dressed and groomed; for others, it may be keeping up with the latest trends. It appears that in the last decade, waxing one’s body has been on the rise, especially with the Hollywood crowd. Waxing is an option for those not wanting to deal with the rigors of shaving, offering a far better and longer-lasting appearance, especially if a tropical vacation or time at the beach is in your near future. Be forewarned though: waxing is not without its faults.
Getting waxed is a straightforward procedure, and some handle the affair better than others. Typically, some discomfort or pain is experienced, and over time, one acclimates to the pain. Men generally have their backs, arms, and chests waxed, and typically, most women opt for eyebrow, lip, or leg waxing, although others go a step further with bikini or Brazilian waxing. Roughly 60% of American women between the ages of 18 and 24 are bare down there, as are about 50% of women between the ages of 25 and 29.
It must seem harmless if a majority of people are doing it, right? Not necessarily. There have been reported incidents in New York City of several women contracting molluscum contagiosum, a viral skin infection that causes small white- or pink-colored bumps. These incidents occurred after a Brazilian waxing procedure was performed. It’s important to ask questions and be ever vigilant when having procedures done.
These women became infected when salon personnel double-dipped their wax sticks during Brazilian waxing sessions. Double-dipping, as the name suggests, occurs when personnel finish waxing one person and then reuse the same waxing instruments on the next, transmitting any disease and/or bacteria that may have been in the wax. Molluscum contagiosum is treatable, and it is advised to immediately see a dermatologist. If molluscum contagiosum is left untreated, it may spread by the mere act of contact.
Whether by hand or towel, it and many other viruses can be transmitted from one person to another. Due to ease of transmission and the recent number of cases, some states, such as New Jersey, are entertaining the idea of banning Brazilian waxes completely. Let’s not forget that other diseases can be spread during these and other procedures, such as HIV, herpes, and HPV.
Waxing, similar to shaving, causes microscopic wounds. The act of hair removal causes irritation, but also makes the area susceptible to a wide variety of diseases. When waxing the genital region, it’s important to note that the pubic hair being removed may have a purpose. Some theories suggest it acts as a buffer of sorts, to aid in the reduction of friction and irritation, and others state the hair acts as a filter, preventing foreign objects from making contact with the skin itself.
Dr. Emily Gibson also published a post warning of the potential hazards of fully removing pubic hair. An excerpt from Dr. Gibson’s post states: “Pubic hair removal naturally irritates and inflames the hair follicles left behind, leaving microscopic open wounds. When that irritation is combined with the warm moist environment of the genitals, it becomes a happy culture media for some of the nastiest of bacterial pathogens, namely group A streptococcus, staphylococcus aureus and its recently mutated cousin methicillin resistant staph aureus (MRSA). There is an increase in staph boils and abscesses, necessitating incisions to drain the infection, resulting in scarring that can be significant.”
Depending on whom you ask or what you read, waxing may be encouraged or discouraged. There are valid arguments for both sides depending on what one is trying to achieve. Waxing does manage to reduce the thickness of the hair grown, and each successive treatment will help reduce hair growth. By remembering the potential safety concerns and proper preparation and care, waxing can still be an option.
- Baker KJM. A hairless vag may be hazardous for your health. Jezebel website. August 10, 2012. http://jezebel.com/5933627/a-hairless-vag-may-be-hazardous-for-your-health.
- Beware the killer Bikini wax. Women’s Health website. May 9, 2009. http://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/bikini-waxing-dangers.
- DeFalco B. Brazilian wax ban? NJ considers it after two women are injured. Huffington Post website. March 19, 2009. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/03/19/brazilian-waxes-may-be-ba_n_176824.html.
- Gibson E. MD. Doctor: Pubic hair exists for a reason – our obsession with hairless genitals must end! AlterNet website. August 9, 2012. http://www.alternet.org/doctor-pubic-hair-exists-reason-our-obsession-hairless-genitals-must-end-0.
- Laurance J. Physician calls for an end to Bikini waxing. Independent website. August 5, 2012. http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/physician-calls-for-an-end-to-bikini-waxing-8008628.html.
- Rubin M. I got an STI from a Brazilian wax. Cosmopolitan website. March 6, 2014. http://www.cosmopolitan.com/sex-love/advice/a5875/brazilian-wax-sti/.
- Schocker L. Bikini waxing dangers: 5 health risks to consider. Huffington Post website. March 29, 2013. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/29/bikini-waxing-dangers-risk-health_n_2976402.html.