WOMEN who wax or shave their bikini line are more likely to suffer from a sexually transmitted infection, scientists have found.
Dermatologists in France said Brazilians and other popular hair removal methods leave women vulnerable to a viral infection called Molluscum contagiousum.
This is a pox virus, which can be passed on through sex, and cases have been steadily rising over the last decade.
Experts quizzed men and women who visited a private skin clinic in Nice, France, between January 2011 and March 2012.
In this time, they came across 30 cases of the bug and almost all – 93 per cent – had had their pubic hair removed. Around 70 per cent had shaved and 10 per cent had waxed away the hair.
In four cases, signs of the infection had spread right up to the abdomen and to the thighs in one case. In 10 cases, there were other skin conditions such as ingrown hairs, warts, cysts, scars and folliculitis, a bacterial skin infection.
As the Molluscum contagiousum can spread relatively easily by self-infection, such as scratching, hair removal might also facilitate transmission as a result of the micro trauma it causes to the skin, suggest the authors.
They go on to speculate about the reasons for the popularity of pubic hair removal.
The study, published online in the Sexually Transmitted Infections journal, said: “The reasons for choosing genital hair removal remain unclear, but may be linked with internet-based pornography … increased sexual sensation … an unconscious desire to simulate an infantile look … or a desire to distance ourselves from our animal nature,” they write.