Ah, with summer upon us, this is a question for more and more young women. The endless battle of body hair. Your questions gives me a chance to put in a good word for pubic hair along with answering your question.
Many young people do not like pubic hair – earlier on in puberty that’s often because it’s something new and it was never there before, so why would we need it there now?! Later on it may be because it sneaks out of bikinis or because young people see pictures online of naked women who may have removed much, most or even all of their pubic hair. With many more young people coming across porn online (see HERE for more on that), either by accident, or on purpose to see what normal bodies look like or for other reasons, often what is seen is interpreted to mean that is the only standard of beauty or normality. In fact, beauty ideals change from generation to generation, and culture to culture, so there is not one standard that applies to all women.
Pubic hair is not a bad thing, and removing it is a question of personal preference. Why is it there at all? Well, one a good thing it does for you is provide a cushion and some protection from impact (on a bike, during sex, etc). It also seems to make it harder for different bacteria and viruses that would enter through the skin to get in because of the extra layer of protection. Some people think that removing pubic hair is better for hygiene and for staying clean, but this is not true at all. Removing the hair exposes the genital skin more directly to bacteria and viruses that can cause infections.
If you choose to remove the hair, the options are basically shaving, waxing or using chemicals (depilatories).
- You are right that shaving can cause razor burn – it can also cause small infections of the hair follicles called folliculitis. Shaving in the direction of hair growth rather than against it can help with that.
- Waxing can be done with warm wax or with cold wax, and involves spreading a thin layer of wax over the hair you want removed, and then after it hardens, pulling it quickly off the skin surface, yanking the hair stuck in it out with the wax. If you wax, be careful not to burn your skin with hot wax – this skin is thin and delicate. Follow the directions closely on the package.
- Depilatories are chemical creams that dissolve the hair connection to the skin near the root or follicle. These are applied and left on for a specific amount of time, and then when you wipe it off, the hair comes off with it. Some people have allergic reactions to the chemicals, so you should always do a little test to make sure you are not allergic to it before using on your genital area.
No matter which method you use, none of these are permanent, and need to be repeated regularly. Important things to keep in mind are to wash the skin thoroughly with soap and water prior to removing the hair – this way you decrease the risk of introducing bacteria into the skin and causing infections. Afterwards, keep the area clean and dry. If you notice that the hair follicles are getting infected, you can use a bit of antibiotic cream or ointment that you get at any drug store to help. If you have a bad reaction or infection that doesn't seem to be getting better, go to your Dr to have her check it out!