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Can manscaping increase the chances of an STD?

Shaving pubic hair is pretty common among men and does present health concerns from a dermatologic viewpoint.  Besides the danger of shaving in that area (according to a recent study in the journal Urology, men had over 750 emergency room visits related to using razors in the pubic region), shaving does increase your risk for certain sexually transmitted diseases.  Shaving with a razor causes microtrauma to the skin and can lead to microscopic erosions, tears and cuts.  This, in turn, can create a portal of entry for viruses and bacteria you might have been previously exposed to and that are sitting on the skin.  This can lead to virus infiltration and infection.  Specifically, an STD called molluscum contagiosum (MC) thrives in this type of situation.  MC is caused by a non-cancerous virus, called poxvirus, and forms little white heads (that look like pimples) that have a small indentation in the center of the individual bumps.  These bumps, which can number from 1 to 30 or 40, tend to form on the top layers of the skin in areas of infection.  As the name “contagiosum” implies, they are very contagious and easily spread by skin to skin contact.  What’s more, not only can shaving down there make a man more susceptible to MC, but it can lead to the spread of the virus to other hair-bearing areas.  This is due to the virus being transported by the razor from the infected areas to non-infected areas that you shave (like the scalp or face).  As an aside, if you do get an infection and use a shower loofa, make sure to throw it away (shower loofas are notorious for harboring the virus and increasing the risk of it spreading).  To be safe, just use your hands instead.  In addition to MC, pubic regions that are shaved have an increased risk for genital warts (caused by human papillomavirus) and even herpes simplex infections.  Dana Point Dermatology recommends against the use of razor blades in the pubic region and advises to use an electric trimmer instead. Compared to a razor blade, an electric trimmer won’t cut the hair as close to the skin and lead to less nicks and cuts.  

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