To many, shaving the pubic hair is a normal body care exercise. In fact, most people cannot stand the pubic hair.
But health experts say shaving the pubic hair may not be a good idea after all because the hair prevents the skin from contracting boils, sores, genital warts or growths.
According to a study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 60 per cent of women had at least one health complication incurred from pubic hair removal, typically epidermal abrasion (invisible cuts to the skin) and ingrown hairs. It was also shown to cause severe skin irritation and infections.
Dangers of pubic hair removal
In an interview with Women’s Health, an online medical site, Dr. Hugh Byrne, a consultant gynaecologist spoke on the dangers of hair removal. Below are some of the dangers he pointed out:
1) Hair removal can cause abscesses
Dr. Byrne said that since hair removal became really commonplace he’s seen “a definite increase in infected abscesses that need to be lanced [drained]”. Typically, they’re caused by bacteria entering the body through the hair follicle.
He explains that it is easily corrected, either by antibiotics, or a patient having an operation, which always carries a danger risk.
2) Hair removal can increase STI risks
A 2012 study suggests that hair removal can increase the chance of contracting an STI because removing the hair affects the skin membrane, making it easier for bacteria to enter the body.
Byrne says that in his experience, this is true. He explains that pubic hair is there to “absorb moisture and drain it away from areas that aren’t exposed”. According to him, if there’s no hair, the skin is more vulnerable to infections such as herpes and genital warts.
3) Hair removal is more dangerous for overweight women
The new American study found that complications were twice as likely for overweight or obese women, and three times more likely if they removed all their pubic hair. Byrne explains that it’s because for larger women, their skin will be closer together.
“The hairs that are short are more likely to be ingrown,” he says. “There’ll also be more moisture so they’re more likely to have bacteria.”
A Mayo Clinic publication says there is no medical or hygienic reason for removing some or all of your pubic hair but that the removal process can be painful and may cause many side effects such as:
- Genital itching, sometimes severe
- Genital burns from waxing
- Abrasions or cuts during shaving or waxing
- Stubble, rash, bumps and ingrown hairs
- Bacterial infections
- Increased risk of contracting or transmitting viral infections, such as herpes simplex or HPV, due to cuts or skin irritation that make the skin more susceptible
- Contact dermatitis from shaving products