This past March, the state of New Jersey nearly banned Brazilian bikini waxes after two women landed in the hospital as a result of them (one of the women filed a lawsuit against the state cosmetology board). And in 2007, an Australian woman with type 1 diabetes almost died of a bacterial infection she got after a bare-it-all wax.
What makes them risky? “Pubic hair is there for a reason to protect the sensitive skin and mucous membranes in the genital region,” explains Linda K. Franks, M. D., an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the New York University School of Medicine. “Getting a wax literally strips away that layer of protection.” Waxing can also pull off tiny pieces of the skin’s outermost layer, creating a portal through which bacteria can enter the body. What’s more, the process creates inflammation, which can trap bacteria beneath the skin. All of this sets the stage for skin infections (including staph), folliculitis (infection of the hair follicles), and ingrown hairs. “Anytime you compromise the integrity of the skin, you’re going to increase your risk of infection,” Franks says. She advises people who have diabetes, chronic kidney or liver disease, skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis, or weakened immune systems to avoid waxing altogether. For everyone else, there are simple ways to ward off danger:
Choose a facility carefully Before you make an appointment, drop by to see how clean the place is, or ask a friend to recommend a salon she trusts. Be sure the cosmetologist or aesthetician you choose is licensed by your state and has received training in Brazilian waxing, says Rosanne Kinley, past president of the National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology.
Ask about the wax “Hard wax is best. It’s gentler and adheres to the hair, not the skin,” Kinley says. “Speed wax, which is soft and sticky, is applied with a roller applicator, and while it’s fast and easy, it’s more painful and more likely to tear skin.”
Keep an eye on hygiene Before beginning the process, the practitioner should scrub up or (at least) apply hand sanitizer. Double dipping into the wax is taboo because it introduces bacteria into the pot. “The waxer should have brand-new spatulas available for each swipe to your skin,” Kinley says. To prevent burns, she should check the wax’s temperature on the inside of her wrist before applying it to your skin. If you don’t see the practitioner taking these steps, speak up.
Know the signs of infection Check yourself with a hand mirror (look for inflamed ingrown hairs, rashes, or raw, open sores or cuts). “See a doctor ASAP if you develop redness or swelling in the area, an itching or burning sensation, peeling of the skin, or a fever,” Robinson says.
Article Credit: WomensHealthMag.com
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