Could a Brazilian Wax Be an STD Risk?

by Lexi Novak

That's what new research from France may be suggesting. In a study that will appear in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections, researchers found a correlation between pubic hair removal and an infection known as Molluscum contagiosum. Never heard of it? Neither had we. Turns out, it's a virus common in children that causes raised bumps on the skin. You can get it from "inanimate objects such as faucets or doorknobs," explains Jeannette Graf, Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center. In adults, it's often transmitted by sexual contact. The French study focused on 30 patients who had sexually contracted M. contagiosum and found that 93 percent had removed their pubic hair (70% from shaving, 10% from waxing)-but no direct link was found between that and the disease. Independent of this study, many experts have suggested that hair removal can increase the chances of viral infection because of "micro-trauma," the tiny cuts and openings in the skin that occur during the process.

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Before you decide to go au naturale, it's important to note that the study looked at a very small number of people--and only six women--so it's not exactly a robust, cross-cultural-level investigation. Also, there is no cause-and-effect here--it's simply an association between those who had waxed and those who had the virus. Finally, it's important to note that M. contagiosum "is an easily treated, benign condition. The pimple-like bumps can be burned, frozen, or treated with topical medication, says Francesca Fusco, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. Graf's advice to patients is that they abstain from shaving and waxing if they are diagnosed with the infection and undergoing treatment. Otherwise, it's maintenance as usual.

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