Home-Use Hair Removal Risks

A new study suggests that professional hair removal services may help protect consumers.
Home-Use Hair Removal Risks

Men’s skincare regimens often focus heavily on the daily routine of shaving, but are you also speaking with your female clients and patients about how to shave safely at home? According to a study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology (online September 5, 2016), the incidence of hair removal-associated injuries seen in U.S.-based emergency departments increased nearly nine-fold between 1991 and 2014. More than 60% of the injuries occurred at home.

The study from the School of Public Health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham was spurred by a PhD student’s curiosity. He wondered whether the growing trend of shaving one’s pubic area had led to an increase in injuries. “We found that it absolutely has,” says professor and study co-author Gerald McGwin, PhD, MS. “You can see that, particularly for females, the rate of injury dramatically increased right around 2010.”

The researchers reviewed data on hair removal-related injuries from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) from 1991 to 2014 and collected information on age, gender, body region injured and injury diagnosis. Between 1991 and 2014 there were an estimated 292,053 hair removal-associated injuries resulting in emergency room visits. The rates increased from 2.22/100,000 people in 1991 to 8.5/100,000 in 2014 with a peak of 9/100,000 people in the U.S. seeking medical attention for hair removal-related injuries in 2013.

More than 50% of injuries were lacerations, occurring most commonly on the face for men and on the lower limbs for women. However, injuries to the trunk and pubic region increased from 0.63/100,000 to 1.58/100,000 between 2011 and 2013 for men, and from 0.81/100,000 to 2.8/100,000 between 2008 and 2013 for women.

The age groups affected also shifted. Prior to 2011, the highest rate of injury was among people 65 and older, but they were surpassed by the 19- to 34-year-old age group due to the increased rates of injury to the trunk and pubic regions.

One key piece of advice may be to avoid dull razors. The authors found that razor manufacturers experienced a 5% decrease in demand starting in 2008, which coincided with a significant increase in laceration injuries. They posited that during the recession consumers may have continued to use dull razors due to tighter financial budgets, resulting in more injuries.

“Because the majority of these injuries happened at home, another message for consumers may be: If you want to pursue extensive hair removal, consult a professional,” says McGwin.

Inga Hansen is the executive editor of MedEsthetics.

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