Ouch! A recent survey shows serious injuries are more common than you think. Your Saturday morning challenge: trying to get through this story without cringing
In a national US survey of 7570 adults (4198 men and 3372 women, mean age 41.9 years), grooming-related injury was reported in one quarter (25.6%) of participants.
Women reported slightly more injuries than men, at 27.1% of the sample compared with 23.7%, and those who removed all their pubic hair 11 times or more during their lifespan had increased odds of injury.
The most common injuries reported were laceration, burn and rashes, with the most common areas of grooming-related injury for men being the scrotum (67.2%); penis (34.8%); and pubis (28.9%).
And for women, the most common areas were the pubis (51.3%); inner thigh (44.9%); vagina (42.5%); and perineum (13.2%).
In the current survey, the most common methods for removing pubic hair consisted of a non-electric razor (47.5%), followed by an electric razor (26.9%), scissors (18.4%), wax (2.6%), and electrolysis and/or laser hair reduction (0.6%).
Worryingly, 133 injured groomers (9.3%) reported a history of infection resulting from their injury.
Of self-reported injuries, respondents required antibiotics in 49 cases (3.4%) and 36 people (2.5%) had such severe injuries that they required surgical intervention, such as incision and drainage of an abscess, or suture closure of a laceration.
In total, 79 reported injuries (1.4%) required medical attention.
“People groom their pubic hair for different reasons, including sexual appeal, oral sex, partner preference, or routine care and hygiene,” write the authors in JAMA Dermatology.
They point out that in addition to risk of injury, removal of all pubic hair has been correlated with increased risk for cutaneous sexually transmitted infections, such as HPV and molluscum contagiosum.
“Clinicians and healthcare professionals should be aware of this risk factor, which may present an opportunity to discuss not only safe-sex practices but also grooming-related injury-prevention strategies,” they say.
Are some grooming methods safer than others?
Grooming frequency and degree of grooming (i.e. removing all pubic hair) were the main, independent risk factors for injury found in the JAMA study.
Specific instruments were not associated with any injury, and no instrument carried a higher risk for injury requiring medical attention compared with any other.
The authors did find that waxing was protective against high-frequency injuries in women.
However, they point out that severe injuries and infections have also been reported from pubic hair waxing in previous research.
“We believe more research is necessary before claiming that waxing is the safest mode of hair depilation,” they conclude.