Pruning and shaping the shrubs below can be dangerous, according to a new study.
Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, who sifted through the responses of a nationally representative sample of 7,456 American adults, found that 76 percent (5,674) were pubic hair clippers. Of those, one in four reported injuring themselves at least once from the below-the-belt embellishment. Minor cuts were the most common type of injury, accounting for 61 percent of reported injuries, followed by burns and rashes. But 1.4 percent of groomers reported injuries serious enough to require medical attention. That includes antibiotics for infections or surgical procedures, such as stitches and incisions to drain an abscess.
With the data, published Wednesday in JAMA dermatologythe researchers hope to draw attention to the furry problem — and pinpoint factors that may contribute to injuries.
They dug into the data and examined the specific bits most likely to be snatched during a grooming. Unsurprisingly, men who cut around their penises were most likely to injure the scrotum and penis and less likely to injure the perineum, inner thigh, or anus. Women were most at risk of damaging the pubic bone (the hairy area above the vagina), the inner thigh, and the vagina. They were less likely to injure the perineum or anus.
Groomers reported using all kinds of trimming tools – electric razors, non-electric razors, wax, scissors, laser hair removal, electrolysis, or “other.” But this didn’t seem to matter much; no method was linked to a higher risk of injury. (That said, waxing seemed to be associated with a lower risk of re-injury.) Also unimportant to injury risk was how hairy a person rated themselves — the most hairy didn’t take more damage, the researchers found.
What did seem to matter was the frequency and extent of grooming. Both men and women risked more injury with more grooming sessions — going from monthly to daily routines — and if they tried to cut out all the hair down there.
In terms of what increases the likelihood of a serious groin injury, researchers found two factors: lying on your back instead of squatting, standing, or sitting while grooming; and let someone else take care of it.
Most groomers – 94 percent – reported doing the manual work themselves. But 8.5 percent reported their partner looked after them, 3.9 percent reported professional grooming, and an intriguing 0.5 percent were “looked after by a friend.”
The researchers note that their study has limitations, including relying on people’s confessions and memories. It is possible that minor injuries are underreported based on erroneous memories, while some more serious situations were omitted out of embarrassment.
Still, say the authors, it is clear that pubic primping is widespread and injuries are common. “So efforts are needed to prevent injuries,” they conclude. They hope the data will help clinicians weed out patients at high risk of injury and come up with “clinical guidelines or recommendations for safe pubic hair removal.”
JAMA dermatology2017. DOI:10.1001/jamadermatol.2017.2815 (About DOIs).