Q: Don't tell my germophobe boyfriend, but I borrowed his razor to shave my legs and, yes, my bikini line, too. He'd freak out if he knew. Should he?
Absolutely! Razor blades can spread infections such as warts (caused by a virus), folliculitis (typically caused by staph bacteria), or jock itch (fungal infection). And that's true even if you don't cut yourself. Shaving creates microscopic openings in the skin, which allow organisms to enter and spread infection. And, although they're usually spread by direct contact, the viruses that cause herpes and hepatitis can also linger on razor blades or in the moist areas between blades. Your boyfriend could have one of these infections and not know it.
Here's something else to consider: You'll get the closest, cleanest shave -- with less risk of nicks or dry, flaky skin -- if you use a sharp razor that skims the skin instead of tugging against it. A good rule of thumb is to replace the blade after five to 10 uses, and you'll be able to keep track more efficiently if you have a blade that's all your own. Not to mention that you might end up with razor burn on your face from kissing your mate if he hasn't gotten a close shave. -- Jeanie Chung Leddon, MD, PhD, Boulder Valley Center for Dermatology, Lafayette, Colo.
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