Men have been shaving their faces for hundreds of years. And women have been shaving their legs for just about as long. But over the last decade or so, hairlessness has become a fashion statement for men and women, and both sexes have been shaving (or waxing or trimming) their pubic hair. And all that shaving may be increasing people’s risk of contracting several STDs (sexually transmitted disease).
An estimated 80 percent of college students say they wax, clip, or shave some or all of their pubic hair. Researchers in France found that ever since shaved pubes became all the rage, there’s been an increase in the number of cases of a relatively rare STD, molluscum contagiosum and may also increase the risk of developing genital warts. (On the good news front, less pubic hair also means fewer pubic lice. The number of cases has dropped significantly in the past 10+ years.) Apparently, the skin irritation and the microscopic cuts from shaving and waxing makes the skin susceptible to infection, says Dr. Francois Desruelles, of the department of dermatology at Archet Hospital in Nice, France.
Interestingly, laser hair removal didn’t seem to pose the same risk—and neither does waxing. Possibly, says Deruelles, because they aren’t making those tiny cuts or causing any bleeding.
Desruelles’s results were based on a study of 30 infected patients of a skin-care clinic in France between 2011 and 2012 and were published as a letter in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections.