Dangers of a good bikini line
Shaving and waxing of the pubic area is now the norm, but is leading to severe scarring and infections in young men and women, says a Nelson sexual health practitioner.
Independent Nursing Practice director Annette Milligan said their staff had seen quite a number of young men and women with significant skin problems and susceptibility to infections from shaving, or in some cases waxing, their pubic hair.
"The habit of pubic shaving really is the norm. When we do genital exams on a 20-year-old and they have got pubic hair we almost fall over with surprise.
"But we're seeing young people developing significant keloid scarring because when the hair grows back it gets itchy and irritated, and ingrown hairs, pimples and nicking the skin leaves the area susceptible to infections.''
Some of the waxing techniques and ingrown hairs coming in were also a real worry, she said.
"Some of our nurses have seen very nasty cases of thick scarring and young people are ending up with quite damaged groin and pubic areas that don't look good at all because of the damage to skin.''
They were also seeing more young women with significant episodes of herpes.
"Our strong suspicion is that when they shave, they get a whole lot of microscopic cuts, so if they shave before they go out and then they have sex with [with a carrier of the herpes virus] having an asymptomatic shedding episode, it is the perfect portal for entry for herpes virus. It's very disturbing. We are seeing lots more cases of genital herpes than we saw 20 years ago.''
A nurse from the practice, who did not want to be named, said they rarely saw pubic hair on anyone from age 13 to 28. She said while "the vast majority of girls and guys [got] away with no problems``, she had recently seen five clients in one morning, four of whom had problems from removing pubic hair.
"That was a particularly bad morning, but it does happen on a daily basis.''
They were concerned with the ideas young people had about what was "normal", she said.
Many young men were watching pornography with unrealistic and hair-less images which led them to be quite derogatory about pubic hair, and there were even groups on Facebook such as "the anti-pubic hair society", she said.
"And some of these girls never have pubic hair because they take it all off as soon as they get it. It's offensive to them.''
Ms Milligan said they wanted parents to talk to their young people about the normality of pubic hair.
"What surprises me is mothers have absolutely no idea ... that almost every girl in school is shaving their pubic hair. But it's not unreasonable, unless you're in a job like ours it's not something you would even really think to talk to your daughter about.''Education is the key. We just want them to be aware that boys and girls both have got the idea that the pubic area should be hairless.
"But pubic hair is there as a defence mechanism to protect that area. It's there for a reason.''
Nelson GP spokesman Graham Loveridge said there were more young people presenting with skin problems as a result of shaving their pubic hair.
A Nayland School student, 17, said it was quite common among her friends, but there were lots who did not shave. "But a lot of the guys do it, and there's more pressure from guys [for girls] to do it.''
The Nelson Mail