Removing pubic hair can have various health risks

Teens may feel pressured to follow certain trends or use certain products when it comes to genital hygiene and pubic hair removal, and they should be aware of some of the risks.

If young women and teens feel pressured to follow certain trends or use certain products when it comes to genital hygiene and pubic hair removal, they should know there are some risks associated with these practices, according to Kimberly S. Huhmann, M.D., pediatric and adolescent gynecologist with Norton Children’s Gynecology, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine.

Vaginal hygiene

When it comes to keeping your vaginal area clean, keep it simple — often water is enough.

Only unscented, mild soap should be used to wash the vulva (the external genital area). Do not use any soap inside the vagina (the internal genital area); plain water is sufficient.

The vagina is naturally self-cleaning, and soaps can disrupt its natural pH levels and cause irritation. Douching, sprays and deodorants should be avoided because they can cause irritation or infections.

Norton Children’s Gynecology

Schedule an appointment with a pediatric and adolescent gynecologist.

Learn more.

Should I remove my pubic hair?

Removing pubic hair is not necessary to keep the vulva or vaginal area clean. Pubic hair can help protect the skin and prevent chafing.

Hair removal is a personal preference. Some people do not remove any of their pubic hair, and others may remove only the hair that grows outside of the bikini line. Some people choose to remove all of their pubic hair — but doing so can lead to various health risks.

Complications of pubic hair removal

Removing pubic hair doesn’t come with any health benefits, and doing nothing to the pubic hair or trimming it is best, said Dr. Huhmann. Shaving, waxing, sugaring or hair removal creams may lead to adverse skin reactions, such as:

  • Razor burn: Skin irritation, caused by shaving, which can involve redness, burning and itchiness.
  • Folliculitis: Inflammation of the hair follicles caused by any type of hair removal method. May resemble pimples and could be caused by a bacterial or fungal infection.
  • Spread of infection: Hair removal methods, primarily shaving, can spread an infection or sexually transmitted disease if a contaminated hair removal tool, such as a razor, moves across an area of skin.
  • Contact dermatitis: A red, itchy rash often caused by an allergic reaction to a hair removal substance, such as wax or shaving cream.
  • Ingrown hairs: Often associated with tweezing or waxing, ingrown hairs are caused by hair that grows backward underneath the skin. The raised or red bumps can fill with pus and turn into an infected cyst.

According to Dr. Huhmann, shaving has the highest risk for complications (razor burn, folliculitis, skin irritation, etc.) while waxing, laser hair removal and creams carry more moderate risks.