Most adults in the U.S. shave, wax or groom their pubic hair. But the practice is leading to a surprising number of injuries, according to the latest study on the subject.
In a new survey reported in JAMA Dermatology, researchers found that 76% of adults in the U.S. said they groomed their pubic hair. About a quarter of them reported injuries related to grooming.
The most common injuries were cuts, followed by rashes and burns. Most were not serious, but in 1.5% of cases, the injuries required medical attention.
Dr. Benjamin Breyer, vice chair of urology at the University of California San Francisco, and his colleagues conducted the survey using a specially designed questionnaire that asked people to report their grooming habits and injuries. As a urologist, Breyer wanted to investigate pubic hair grooming injuries when he learned that about 3% of the adults who came to the emergency room at UCSF were there because of grooming injuries.
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Not surprisingly, the people who reported injuries were also those who said they groomed more frequently and were more likely to groom more extensively, in many cases removing all of their pubic hair. “One lesson to take from this is that if you have had significant grooming injuries, or keep getting injured, you should reconsider the areas you groom, how frequently you do it, and the extent to which you do it,” Breyer says.
The survey wasn’t designed to determine which grooming method—shaving versus waxing, for example—was safer. But they found that more than 60% of the injuries were related to cuts, so it makes sense that using razors could be dangerous for some people.
These results may be important for more than just preventing injuries, Breyer says. Injuries in the pubic area could make people more vulnerable to infections, including sexually transmitted diseases. He plans to look at the relationship between grooming injuries and sexually transmitted infections to see if injuries might lead to higher rates of transmission.
For now, he says that the results should be reassuring to groomers, since most are doing it safely without harming themselves. But people who are getting injured—and especially those who are getting injured repeatedly—should consider grooming less frequently and taking off less hair. “Infections from grooming injuries are rare,” he says, but grooming more mindfully could save you a visit to the doctor.