Swimming season is here and this usually involves a bit of prepping to "clean things up" down there. One thing you need to be aware of, though, is that applying hot wax on one of the most sensitive parts of your anatomy comes with its own set of risks.
A 2014 study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology showed that at least 87% of women regularly groom their bikini areas for sexual or aesthetic reasons.
Whether you groom the pubic hair on your bikini area or not is up to you, but there are things to consider before your wax appointment to make the process (and the result) as smooth as possible.
1. You need to know the risks
Pubic hair serves as a protective barrier for the vulva. Removing the hair opens up pores around the area, making it easier to contract infections. Certain sexually transmitted infections and diseases, such as genital herpes, spread through skin-to-skin contact and when the skin barrier has been compromised, it’s easier to contract these conditions.
Whitney Bowe, a dermatologist in New York, says, “We have hair down there to protect the fragile, delicate mucosal tissue of the vagina and the urethra. These openings are lined by delicate tissue that needs protection from allergens, pollutants, irritants and infectious microbes. The hairs act like a protective barrier.”
A study published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases in 2016 found that that frequent groomers of pubic hair are three to four times more likely to contract a sexually transmitted infection, such as herpes, human papillomavirus (HPV) or syphilis.
Other risks include unsightly ingrown hair or scarring if the procedure is not performed correctly.
2. Only go to reputable salons
Having a stranger rip out your pubic hair with hot wax can be daunting, therefore you should only have this done by reputable therapists at certified salons. Make sure that the hygiene is up to standard and that the tools are clean. Your therapist should be using disposable application sticks that are only used once and then discarded. Found a good deal on waxing at a salon you’ve never been to? First do your research and read some reviews.
3. Use a soothing cream afterwards
There will be redness and bumps, but these are nothing to worry about and will disappear in a matter of hours. However, it’s a good idea to use a mild, soothing occlusive cream like Vaseline, Neosporine or hydrocortisone on the area if your skin is very sensitive.
4. Be on the lookout for anything out of the ordinary
According to the 2014 study mentioned above, 60% of the women who went for bikini waxing regularly experienced at least one adverse health symptom after waxing, including fever, nausea and fatigue. This is an immune response by the body when a barrier is removed. However, if you experience a high fever or a rash that will not clear up, it’s important to see your doctor as it might be a staph infection. Also treat ingrown hairs immediately to prevent scar formation or an infection from escalating to something more serious.
5. Schedule your waxing for when you are not having your period
During your period, hormonal fluctuations cause your body to be in a more inflammatory state than usual. This means that you may be more sensitive to pain and infections. While this isn’t strongly backed by research, it’s an observation made by doctors, gynaecologists and waxing therapists. You might shy away from waxing while menstruating because of shyness; however, if you think you can handle the pain during that time of the month, there is no need to reschedule your appointment. Simply let your therapist know that you are menstruating.
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