Drop that hot wax! A new study out of Nice, France, turned up a potential downside of bikini waxing. Brazilian waxing and other methods of removing pubic hair may increase the risk of catching a certain skin infection through sexual activity, according to this preliminary research.
The study, conducted by two French dermatologists and a global health researcher from Emory University at a private health clinic in France was published in the sister publication of the British Medical Journal called Sexually Transmitted Infections. It looked into the relationship between pubic hair removal (excluding laser treatments) and the increase of Molluscum contagiosum, a minor pox virus that causes raised, pearl-like spots, which can be spread through any type of contact. According to a CDC report, molluscum contagiousum is most commonly seen in children and in humid environments. However, recent cases noted around the world suggest that this infection—although not life-threatening—is a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
Of the private clinic’s 30 patients (6 women and 24 men) who presented with the STI in 2011 and 2012, 93 percent had removed their pubic hair by waxing (10 percent), shaving (70 percent), or clipping (13 percent). Ten of the 30 patients had at least one other skin condition, like warts or bacterial infections. Since the researchers only found an association and not a proven cause, a conclusive verdict has not been drawn. A more substantial study would require a larger sample of women and a control group of infection-free waxers.
Still experts not involved in the study agree on one thing—removing pubic hair could lead to a greater risk of contracting STIs through skin-to-skin contact since the small cuts and nicks made during shaving or waxing make it easier for viruses to invade.
According to the CDC, the best way to avoid getting a molluscum contagiosum infection is to practice good hygiene. To be extra careful when you go for your waxing, Ellie Malmin, medical aesthetician of Anushka Spa, Salon & Cosmedical Centre in West Palm Beach says, “Make sure your spa is clean and your aesthetician has sanitized her hands and her tools. Always go to a trusted medspa with good client ratings and if you’re worried about going au naturel, remember that the hair itself is not a defensive barrier.”