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Hairless Genitals Could Increase Risk of Infection

Hairless Genitals Could Increase Risk of Infection

Could shaved genitals increase the risk of pox infection?

Over the last decade the removal of pubic hair has become fashionable. Some experts claim the grooming technique has helped reduced the number of cases of public lice, but a new study that shaving around the genitals can boost the risk of pox infection.

The research, conducted by French scientists at the department of dermatology at Archet Hospital in Nice, suggests that skin irritation due to shaving, clipping or waxing the genital area could explain the increase of a sexually transmitted disease called molluscum contagiosum.

Lead author of the study, Dr. Francois Desruelles, said:

“Genital hair removal has become a fashion phenomenon in the last decade. At the same time, the number of cases of molluscum contagiosum has risen.”

hair removal incease risk of pix infection 550x299 Hairless Genitals Could Increase Risk of Infection

Removing Genital Hair Could Increase Risk of Pox Infection

The findings still need to be confirmed by further control studies, however Desruelles believes the shaving trend is to blame. He also noted that the process might also increase the risk of developing genital warts.

Molluscum contagiosum manifests as rash, which is usually seen in children or people with impaired immune systems, but it can also be sexually transmitted. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the molluscum rash usually disappears within a year without treatment and typically does not leave scarring.

To find the link, the study authors analyzed 30 infected French patients who sought treatment from an unnamed private skin care clinic in Nice during 2011 and 2012. The average age of the patients was around 30 years, and 24 of them were men, all of whom displayed the signs of infection – pearl-like, raised skin bumps – some more severe than others.

Nevertheless, the researchers found that all of the patients had undergone pubic hair removal, with shaving being the top method of choice. 10 percent chose waxing and 13 percent chose clipping.

The findings also showed that one-third of the patients suffered from other skin issues, such as warts, bacterial skin infections, cysts, scars, and/or ingrown hairs.

The authors theorized that the pox virus might actually spread through self-infection – scratching irritated skin – provoked by the hair removal process. Personal hygiene was also considered as a likely factor of self-infection, however genital shaving in particular appeared to elevate infection risk.

Desruelles explained that laser hair removal and waxing were likely to be less risky hair removal techniques since they leave no microscopic cuts or bleeding.

The study was published in online in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections, March 19, 2013.

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  1. Alan Mozes: Craze for Hairless Genitals Accompanies Rise in Infections. MSN, 2013.

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