Grooming your pubic hair can be harmful to your health.
In fact, about one-quarter of all people who go bare “down there” are injuring themselves.
And an increasing number are men.
That’s according to a recent study published in JAMA Dermatology.
Experts say the motives behind this trend include more social pressure to wax, shave, or laser off body hair.
Indeed, 76 percent of the JAMA survey’s 7,456 overall respondents said they groom their pubic hair.
Of these, 85 percent were women and 66 percent were men. The average age for groomers was 43.
Researchers said 1,430 of the respondents reported grooming-related injuries. That’s about 25 percent of the 5,674 who groom their pubic hair.
“The biggest surprise was the prevalence of this practice,” Dr. Matthew Truesdale, a urologist in Florida, who worked on the study, told Healthline. “But people don’t talk about it.”
Small cuts feed infection
The study was launched after Dr. Benjamin Breyer, a study co-author from the University of California, San Francisco, began to see more people going to the emergency room for pubic hair grooming emergencies.
“We wanted to understand what’s going on in America,” Truesdale said. “And to drill down into the findings.”
The findings were that men and women were most apt to nick themselves while shaving. That was followed by injuries related to burning.
Hairier men were most at risk, along with men who groomed more frequently or removed all pubic hair many times.
Nearly one-third of the groomers had hurt themselves at least five times.
For men, the scrotum was most frequently injured.
“It’s not surprising,” said Truesdale, “since it’s the most difficult area to groom.”
The penis and pubis were also likely targets.
Women were more likely to burn themselves from waxing than men. Their injuries were most likely to the pubis or inner thigh.
However, serious injuries are rare. Only 1.4 percent of the groomers needed to go to a doctor.
The biggest risk in getting nicked while shaving is that small cuts can let in bacteria.
“Razors can make incisions in the skin,” Truesdale said. “They put people more at risk for infection.”
That’s not all.
Researchers at UC San Francisco found a link between more frequent grooming and sexually transmitted diseases such as herpes or syphilis, according to study published in December in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections.
Better shaving methods help
Truesdale and other researchers’ goal is to help create guidelines for safe pubic hair removal.
Part of the current problem, explained Truesdale, is there aren’t many products aimed at pubic hair grooming. For now, removing less hair can be self-protective.
He also worries that if people do nick or burn themselves, healthcare visits may be delayed because of embarrassment.
“So if there’s a previous injury, it’s worth talking to a doctor,” he said.
Dr. Michele Green, a dermatologist in New York, has also seen the worrisome trend of more pubic hair removal injuries in the past few years.
But, she added, there are good ways to prevent injuries.
Knowing how to properly shave helps. Before shaving, Green advises using warm water and shaving cream. Afterward, apply soothing aloe.
“People just shave dry areas,” she said.
That can create those small tears in the skin.
Green also advised not plucking or picking hairs.
For men, laser hair removal, which is permanent, is also a good solution.
“But go to a board-certified dermatologist,” Green said, “because there are different lasers for different skin types.”
For women, leaving wax on too long can cause burns.
“Some places don’t have the proper waxing experience,” she explained, and may leave the wax on too long. She also recommended going to professionals.
According to the JAMA study, though, waxing is still a lower risk than shaving.
“Women who waxed had lower risk of lifetime injuries,” said Truesdale. “It’s a safer practice.”