Is bikini waxing a health hazard? Hair removal creates 'open wounds that are vulnerable to serious infection' warns medical expert
Zap, pluck, wax, shave - the possibilities seem to be endless when it comes to keeping one's hair down there neat and tidy.
But one medical expert has spoken out about the various health risks that come with pubic hair removal.
Family physician Emily Gibson, who also serves as a medical director at Western Washington University in Bellingham, said that removing the hair is like creating 'open wounds' that are prone to infection and even sexually-transmitted disease, such as herpes, if in contact with another person.
Health risks: A medical expert has declared war on pubic hair removal. The family physician claims that it creates 'open wounds' that are vulnerable to infection
She added that men are at risk of infection just as much as women.
In an article she wrote for KevinMD.com, she explained 'that irritation is combined with the warm moist environment of the genitals' and therefore becomes a breeding ground for infection.
The physician pinpointed A streptococcus, which, in extreme cases, can lead to organ failure, and staphylococcus aureus, which can cause pimples and boils as well as far more serious side effects, in particular.
She added that 'freshly-shaved pubic areas and genitals are also more vulnerable to herpes infections due to the microscopic wounds being exposed to virus carried by mouth or genitals'.
'Pubic hair does have a purpose, providing cushion against friction that can cause skin abrasion and injury,' she said.
'[Its] removal naturally irritates and inflames the hair follicles left behind, leaving microscopic open wounds.'
The expert said that she has seen cellulitis, a soft tissue bacterial infection, in areas including a man's scrotum and penis.
'Some clinicians are finding that freshly-shaved pubic areas and genitals are also more vulnerable to herpes'
She compared newly-bare skin to a 'scorched battlefield'.
'No matter what expensive and complex weapons are used - razor blades, electric shavers, tweezers, waxing, depilatories, electrolysis - hair, like crab grass, always grows back and eventually wins,' she wrote in the report.
'In the mean time, the skin suffers the effects of the scorched battlefield,' she continued.
The Independentreported that hair removal cost Americans $2.1billion in 2011 - and the figure was similar in the UK.
Despite the health risks, the physician noted the practice's popularity: 'The amount of time, energy, money and emotion both genders spend on abolishing hair from their genitals is astronomical.
'The genital hair removal industry, including medical professionals who advertise their specialty services to those seeking the 'clean and bare' look, is exponentially growing.'