After several reported cases of serious infections following bikini waxes, Linda K. Franks, M. D., an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the New York University School of Medicine believes the risk lies in removal of pubic hair. She told Women's Health Magazine, "Pubic hair is there for a reason-to protect the sensitive skin and mucous membranes in the genital region. Getting a wax literally strips away that layer of protection."
In addition, waxing can also tear off pieces of the skin, creating an opportunity for bacteria to get into the body and stay trapped in there from inflammation that can result from waxing.
"Anytime you compromise the integrity of the skin, you're going to increase your risk of infection," Franks said. She recommends that anyone with diabetes, chronic kidney or liver disease, skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis, or weakened immune systems should stay away from waxing. For the rest of us, if waxing is a must, Women's Health Magazine offers some simple tips to help you stay safe:
Research the Facility
Ask for recommendations from friends who are old pros at waxing. Then, instead of calling to make an appointment, visit the site in person. This will allow you to see how clean and professional it is. Also, make sure the cosmetologist or aesthetician you choose is properly trained and licensed by your state. There is no shame in asking to see credentials.
Inquire About the Type of Wax
Ask for products that are natural and chemical-free because these will be gentler on your skin. Also, while soft wax, or speed wax, is quicker, it is more painful to remove, so ask for hard wax instead. It adheres only to the hair, not the skin.
Speak up if you don't see your practitioner wash her hands thoroughly before beginning. She should avoid double-dipping the spatula when applying the wax because this can spread bacteria into the pot. Also, make sure she tests the temperature of the wax on her wrist before applying it to your skin.
Reduce the Chances of Infection
After your wax, use an over-the-counter topical antibiotic cream and an anti-inflammatory 1% hydrocortisone cream on your bikini area for several days to help reduce inflammation, irritation and possible infection. If you notice inflamed ingrown hairs, rashes, open sores or cuts, see your doctor immediately.
To learn more about the risks, read about these hair removal war stories.