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Craze for Hairless Genitals, Rise in Infections

Shaving, clipping and waxing may raise risk of skin virus, study finds

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Genital shaving in particular appeared to elevate infection risk.

"Laser hair removal doesn't seem to be involved in this association," Desruelles said, "because there are no microscopic cuts or bleeding during the removal of hair. For the same reason, waxing could be less 'at risk' than shaving."

However, genital shaving may have some "positive aspects," Desruelles said, noting that the practice may help curb the spread of pubic lice. Bloomberg News recently reported that with 80 percent of American college students now waxing, clipping, and shaving away all or some of their genital hair, pubic lice cases have dramatically dropped.

Dr. Anupam Jena, an assistant professor in the department of health care policy and medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, said "it's certainly reasonable" to envision a connection between genital shaving and viral risk, but more research is needed before drawing a direct causal link.

"If you were to tell me that the rates of this STD [sexually transmitted disease] are higher in men or women who do hair removal of this kind I wouldn't be surprised," he said. "But it's hard to say whether this is a matter of cause and effect, or whether people who undergo this hair removal are more likely to engage in sexual activities that might increase their risk for contracting STDs to begin with?"

The hygiene at the particular place where these patients underwent hair removal may have played a role in the findings, Jena added.

"For now, in terms of whether or not individuals should interpret this to mean that they shouldn't undergo hair removal of this kind, I would say there's no need for alarm," Jena said.

The rash associated with molluscum usually disappears within a year without treatment and without scarring, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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