Health & Wellness

Pruning hair down there is causing injuries, new study finds

More than one in four people who shave, wax or in some other way remove pubic hair sustain injuries in the process, a new study finds.

Pubic hair removal has become increasingly common, San Francisco researchers found. Over 76 percent of people from a nationally representative survey reported engaging in the practice to some degree, according to the study published in JAMA Dermatology on Wednesday.

While most of the injuries were minor, 1.4 percent of those who “groomed” their public hair ended up seeking medical attention, said coauthor Dr. Benjamin Breyer, an associate professor and vice chair of the department of urology at the University of California, San Francisco. “That may seem like a small percentage, but it’s such a common practice, the numbers add up,” Breyer said.

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Breyer says he and his colleagues decided to look into the topic after seeing a number of people in the emergency room with injuries associated with pubic hair pruning. Most of those people had cut themselves while trying to remove the hair, Breyer said. Other types of injuries included burns and rashes.

Some 7,570 men and women, whose average age was 42, completed the survey. Of those, 5,674, or about three-quarters, reported they had “groomed” their pubic hair at least once. A quarter of the groomers, 1,430, reported an injury.

Women were more likely than men to prune pubic hair (85 percent of women versus 66 percent of men), but that may be because so many women do minor hair removal to wear bikinis.

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How can you remove hair without injuring yourself?

You’re less likely to get injured if you don’t feel the need to obliterate every wisp of hair down there and if you practice hair removal less often, Breyer said.

“People who develop an injury that requires medical attention should be counseled to alter their practices by taking less hair off and less often,” he added. “Also I recommend being careful and using clean grooming instruments.”

Dr. Laura Korb Ferris hasn’t seen anything worse than folliculitis—infected hair follicles—in her pubic pruning patients.

For that "we use topical antibiotics or sometimes topical steroids," said Ferris, an associate professor of dermatology at the University of Pittsburgh. "We would also recommend changing methods of hair removal to something like waxing or laser once the initial problem had cleared

For injuries, the best course is halting shaving and washing the affected area twice a day with soap and water, Ferris said. She also suggests using petroleum jelly and a bandaid if the site is irritated by clothing.

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