Removing pubic hair is a personal preference. Some girls trim their pubic hair, or go to a salon to have a “bikini wax”; others prefer to shave just about every day, but most just leave it alone. It’s not necessary to remove the hair in this area to keep your body clean. In fact, there are no health benefits to removing pubic hair.
Shaving: Some girls say that shaving pubic hair is “high maintenance” because the hair usually grows back in just a couple of days. In the meantime, your genital area can feel itchy and prickly because the skin in this area is very sensitive.
Shaving doesn’t make the hair grow back thicker; this is just a myth. However, if you want to keep the area hairless and smooth, you’ll need to invest in good tools such as: scissors, razor, shaving cream or gel, or your own electric razor, and plan on shaving every couple of days.
Over-the-counter “depilatories” or cream hair removers: This method of hair removal is painless, but it’s important to be aware that not all “depilatories” are safe to use on your vulva or “bikini line.” Be sure to read the product label first to make sure it is safe to use on your vulva, and follow the directions exactly and in order. Don’t leave the cream on any longer than the directions say. If you notice redness, swelling, or a rash, it could mean that you’re allergic to the hair remover.
Waxing: A thin layer of warm liquid wax is applied over the hair you want to remove. Next, a thin cloth-like material is placed over the wax before it hardens. It takes a couple of seconds for the wax to get hard. Once hard, the cloth strip is quickly pulled off. This method of hair removal usually stings (when the cloth is pulled off). Waxing is different than other hair removal methods because the hair is removed from the root so it doesn’t grow back as quickly. If you decide to remove your pubic hair using the wax method, it’s best to have it done at a salon or spa that offers waxing as a regular part of their services. If the wax is too hot, you could burn your skin. Never shave before waxing.
Laser hair removal: Laser hair removal is a procedure that uses a strong beam of light that penetrates the skin to destroy the hair follicle. The hair eventually falls out. Protective eye wear must be worn during the treatments. Results can vary from person to person and some people may notice temporary redness and swelling after the treatment. The procedure itself varies in length depending on how much hair is removed, and you must wear protective eyewear throughout the treatment. Laser hair removal can be pricey and take 6 or more sessions. Sometimes it may not work. If you choose this method of hair removal, first schedule a consultation with a health care provider who is board certified in dermatology or cosmetic surgery and who has experience with performing laser hair removal. Make sure the salon is clean and a copy of the provider’s certification is on display.
Electrolysis: Electrolysis is the only hair removal method that permanently removes the hair. A needle shaped electrode is used to destroy the hair root. Treatments are usually once a week or every other week for about a year to completely remove all the hair roots. Each session can last 15-60 minutes and the cost can vary depending on the location and other factors. If you are thinking about electrolysis, ask for a free consultation and get all your questions answered. Look for a clean salon that employs board certified technicians.
Safety Guidelines when Shaving Pubic Hair:
- Use a hand mirror so you can see the area you want to shave.
- Trim as much hair as possible before you begin shaving – DON’T use a dull pair of scissors.
- Soak in the tub for at least 5 minutes to soften the skin and pubic hair before you shave.
- Apply shaving cream or gel with aloe vera or another soothing agent (made for women) over all the areas you plan to shave. Reapply as needed.
- Use a new/sharp razor or “bikini” razor – DON’T use a dull blade. Try a razor with a built-in moisturizing strip.
- Hold the skin tight with one hand and shave with the other hand. Avoid using too much pressure.
- Shave in the direction that the hair grows, using slow strokes.
- Rinse your skin with warm water after you are done shaving and then pat dry.
- Apply baby oil or lotion with aloe vera to the shaved area when you’re done. Avoid scented products because they may sting your skin.
Possible risks from removing pubic hair include:
- Razor burn (rash)
- Chemical burn from over-the-counter cream hair removers (depilatories)
- Cuts, pimples and/or blisters
- Infection in the hair root – the medical term for this is “folliculitis”. Shaving is a common cause.
If you develop a rash, red bumps, or itching on your pubic area (vulva), there are remedies you can try at home. Symptoms usually go away within a couple of weeks. If bumps don’t go away in a week, see your primary care provider.
Most of the time you can relieve discomfort by doing the following:
- Soak in a warm tub or take a shower and let the warm water spray your pubic area
- Pat the skin (don’t rub) with a soft towel or dry with a hair dryer on the low or cool setting
- Apply a fragrance-free lotion
- Stop shaving for a while
Do NOT squeeze! Soaking in warm bath usually helps. If it doesn’t improve, see your health care provider.
Your health care provider may have you use an over-the-counter topical medicine such as hydrocortisone cream.
Folliculitis (Infection in the hair root):
- Soak in a warm bath, pat dry, and apply a thin layer of a topical over-the-counter antibiotic such as Bacitracin®.
- Stop shaving.
- Call your health care provider if you do not have any relief within a couple of days or the bumps are getting bigger or your skin is red.
Severe Rash, Fever, Bleeding, Discharge or Pus:
Stop shaving and call your health care provider right away.