Life / Health

Not so smooth: Injury from grooming pubic hair is common, study shows

Nearly a quarter of American adults who have attempted to modify the hair on their nether regions have hurt themselves in the process.

A 2015 study found that “feeling clean” — not actually being clean — is the top reason both men and women give for removing pubic hair.

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A 2015 study found that “feeling clean” — not actually being clean — is the top reason both men and women give for removing pubic hair.

Are you one of the millions who believe bare is beautiful when it comes to hair under the bikini or boxers?

Remember the saying “beauty is pain.” It turns out to be true.  

According to a new study in the dermatology journal of the American Medical Association, nearly a quarter of American adults who have attempted to modify the hair on their nether regions have hurt themselves in the process. Of those, 32 per cent have done it five times or more.

The survey polled nearly 8,000 American adults ranging in age from 18 to 65, with roughly equal numbers of both sexes.  

Sixty-six per cent of men and 85 per cent of women said they’ve modified their pubic hair in some way, and 1,430 reported a depilation-related injury.

The vast majority of mishaps happened while people attempted to pluck, shave, wax or trim while standing up. Cuts by far were the most common complaint, at 61 per cent of all injuries, followed by burns (23 per cent) and rashes (12 per cent).

The paper’s authors said it’s time for health authorities to “develop recommendations for safe grooming practices,” which should make for some pretty great pamphlets.

Debby Herbenick, director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University, who has done studies on pubic hair and sexuality but wasn’t involved in this one, wasn’t too troubled by the results.

“While lots of people have had some level of injuries, most are pretty mild and fleeting, so it’s not a major public health concern,” she said in an email.

“Most people who groom their pubic hair do it many, many times per year (some daily, others at least weekly), and when you think about those hundreds to tens of thousands of people who have occasionally nicked themselves or gotten razor burn, it’s just not that bad. People should still exercise caution, of course.”

Past research has shown many people think pubic hair is somehow dirty or unhygienic, which couldn’t be farther from the truth. Those who go bare down there are more prone to skin infections and sexually transmitted infections. (Pubic lice, on the other hand, don’t tend to take up residence on the hairless).

A 2015 study Herbenick worked on found that “feeling clean” — not actually being clean — is the top reason both men and women give for removing pubic hair.

The data for this most recent study on injuries was collected in 2014, when fashion magazines had just started to proclaim that pubic hair was back, and before model and self-declared “fire-ass feminist” Amber Rose posted a photo of herself nude from the waist down, totally au naturel. Azeala Banks recently did the same.

Herbenick isn’t convinced this signals a true turnaround.

“We’ve been hearing ‘the bush is back’ for at least a decade now. I do think there’s a trend toward more acceptance of hair over at least the past five years, but time will tell,” she said.

By The Numbers

28

The number of people who told researchers they let a platonic friend trim, shave or wax their pubic hair

27 per cent

Among those who modify their pubic hair, this is the proportion of women who have hurt themselves in the process

67 per cent

The proportion of manscaping injuries that occur to the scrotum

1.4 per cent

Rates of injury were similar between the sexes, and only a tiny proportion of people – 1.4 per cent – required a doctor’s care.

76

Most accidents were self-inflicted. Just 76 people said they'd been injured by a professional while 109 were knicked, razed or burned by a partner or friend

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