Shine On

Extreme beauty procedures sending more women to ER, says study

A recent study suggests more women are landing in ER due to pubic hair removal. (Thinkstock)Between Brazilian bikini waxes, shaving and vajazzling — a service whereby an esthetician glues crystals to your ladybits in varying patterns — downtown grooming is more popular than ever.

But new research out of the University of California San Francisco shows that our quest for pretty parts has also led to a dramatic increase in genital injuries among U.S. women, the kind that lead from the spa to the emergency room.

The study, published in the Journal of Urology, focused on all genital injuries caused by consumer products and concluded that men still lead the pack when it comes to self-inflicted goods damage.

The one area where women appeared to be gaining traction, however, is in the inadvertent-grooming-accident department.

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"While women were overall less likely to endure genital injuries than their male counterparts, there was at least one exception: cuts and infections related to shaving or grooming pubic hair," reads the study's press release.

"The last few years have seen a dramatic increase in these types of injuries in women, and a second study that was recently published by the same UCSF group found that these types of injuries increased five-fold between 2002 and 2010."

The team collected data from 100 hospitals through the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, a service that works through the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Researchers then analyzed narrative descriptions of 10,000 injury cases — everything from zipper execution problems to accidental kicks to the groin that may look funny in movies but are considerably less humorous to the person on the receiving end.

Overall they claim 142,144 U.S. adults raced to emergency rooms between 2002 and 2010 for genital injuries, or roughly 16,000 a year. It's a figure they believe to be a modest estimate, as not every case merited an ER visit.

Though grooming your private parts is perfectly safe for most people, there have been skin-crawling cautionary tales.

The Canadian Press reported the case of an Australian woman with Type 1 diabetes who nearly died from her Brazilian wax after she developed Streptococcus pyogenes infection made more dramatic by a herpes flare-up.

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At the time, Dr. Michael Libman, director of infectious diseases for Montreal's McGill University Health Centre, explained that the tiny tears in the skin caused by waxing make it easy for infections to develop in unsanitary conditions.

"One of the problems with shaving pubic hair, as opposed to shaving your face or shaving your legs, is that it's an area that just has more bacteria in the neighbourhood," he said.

A few years back, New Jersey tried to ban Brazilian waxes citing health concerns, but the ban was eventually scrapped.

Despite the risks, it appears that smooth (or shiny) parts are here to stay. And in most cases there will be no problem at all, although it's wise to practice good grooming habits.

The key for self-groomers is to make sure everything's clean — that includes your grooming implements and your skin.

And if seeking out professional grooming services, make sure your esthetician is both experienced and a stickler for good sanitary practices.    

Watch the video below for how to safely remove hair through waxing. 


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