Read up before you wax off
If you get an occasional bikini wax or a monthly Brazilian, listen: Waxing can increase your risk for certain sexually transmitted infections by creating micro-tears in your skin that later sneaking virus, according to a new study JAMA Dermatology.
As anyone who has ever been on the table for waxing know, the popular procedure can sometimes cause redness, swelling, peeling, and sometimes even bleeding. So researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, University of Texas at Houston, and Tufts Medical Center reviewed previous case studies of bikini waxes and viral infections, concluding that although waxing is “relatively safe, “resulting microscopic tears can potentially make you more vulnerable to infection.
The STI has shown the strongest link waxing are HPV, herpes simplex virus and molluscum contagiosum (a skin virus that ITS was not considered until recently, when it began to appear on the genitals more than women), ob-gyn says Alyssa Dweck, MD, co-author of V is for Vagina. These viruses are not based on the exchange of bodily fluids and transmitted along the skin-to-skin contact.
So do you need to break up with your Brazilian? Not necessarily. The research didn’t find evidence that waxing causes STIs, just that small tears below the belt (whether brought on by waxing, shaving, or even sex), could make transmission of a virus easier. So if you’re worried about your hair removal making you more vulnerable to infection, don’t have sex if your skin is irritated from a wax. Dweck advises waiting at least a day after waxing before you put it to use with a buddy. This should be enough time for typical irritation to calm down, but if you still notice any tears, bleeding, or redness, hold off.
If you already have an STI, it’s also important to avoid irritating your skin with waxing when you’re experiencing a flare-up, says Dweck. “If you have a herpes lesion that’s popping up, hair removal can disturb it and allow it to spread throughout your skin,” she says.