The removal of pubic hair was found to be linked with an increased risk of contracting a pox virus known as Molluscum contagiosum, according to new research published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections. Although Molluscum usually tends to occur in children or immunocompromised individuals, it can also be transmitted through intimate sexual contact or direct contact with contaminated items.
Researchers hypothesized that a recent increase in the number of these viral infections might be associated with the increasing popularity of genital hair removal.
The data were collected through review of patient records at a skin care clinic in Nice, France, between January 2011 and March 2012. During the study period, 30 people were found to be infected with Molluscum. Of these cases, 93% had undergone hair removal in the genital region either by shaving (70%), waxing (10%), or with clippers (13%). The presence of ancillary skin conditions, such as warts, cysts, folliculitis, scars, and ingrown hairs was identified in 10 of the Molluscum cases.
The investigators concluded that microscopic tears in the top layer of the skin encourage the spread of infection, and these tiny breaks in the epidermal layer can occur as a result of hair removal. Hair removal also promotes scratching, which the researchers theorized could have caused subjects to infect themselves.