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I hear a lot about hair removal (anything and everything) and its possible benefits, particularly in terms of sweating and odor control. However, I also hear people suggesting that hair removal (particularly in the pubis region) might increase the risk of skin infection.

I have the impression that these claims were often mainly driven by people's aesthetic view regarding body hair and nobody could show me scientific evidence for their claims.

Is there any scientific evidence suggesting benefits and risks of hair removal procedure?

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    I have no evidence so I won't answer this but, I know that pimples/spots can come from shaving which could get infected in the pubis region as there is more seat and clothes contact in that area. – John Aug 9 '16 at 12:03
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    Repeated shaving increases the risk of ingrown hair and bacterial infection (staphylococcal folliculitis). – Jan Dec 29 '17 at 8:51
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Adverse Effects: A study [See Reference] analyzed the literature and did interviews with medical staff and found that the most common risk for laser hair removal is burns and changes in pigmentation. Lesser common complications include increased sweating, rash, post-op pain.

Benefits: From what I've read [See Reference], the main benefit is cosmetic satisfaction. Although the paper does mention the therapeutic effects against hirsutism/hypertrichosis (excessive hair growth).


To address some of the other points you were mentioning:

  1. Removing hair does assist in odor control since hair is porous (readily absorbs odors). So less hair = less odor.

  2. Removing hair does not reduce sweating "because the practice doesn't affect the glands that produce perspiration." Mayo Clinic explains "These glands will continue to produce perspiration even when the hair is shaved down to skin level."

  3. For pubic hair removal, a study [See References] was done using a self-administered questionnaire (sample size 369 women) and the researchers found that "The majority (60%) had experienced at least 1 health complication because of the removal, of which the most common were epidermal abrasion and ingrown hairs." Your mention of infection is certainly accounted for in the paper: "This practice [pubic hair removal] may result in adverse health consequences, including genital burns from waxing, severe skin irritation leading to post inflammatory hyperpigmentation, vulvar and vaginal irritation and infection, and the spread or transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STI)." From what I've seen, the research on adverse effects of pubic hair removal for men is less studied, but I did find a paper [See Reference] that mentions a positive correlation with STI's, but this conclusion is assuming that men are cutting themselves while shaving.


References:

Evidence-based review of hair removal using lasers and light sources: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/22e9/49a68c2731590e3e92afffa40e756e0bafee.pdf

Adverse Effects of Laser Hair Removal: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/3bea/730adb6241154ec8dd08b901c18e61ecb90e.pdf

Sweating and Body Odor: https://health.howstuffworks.com/skin-care/underarm-care/tips/does-shaving-armpits-reduce-sweating.htm

Pubic Hair Removal Complications in Women Study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24486227

Pubic Hair Removal in Males, Trends: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5675231/


Cheers.

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Most of the questions — especially about the benefits — are answered exhaustively on the Wikipedia page. For medical reasons, in particular, the article states that

In extreme situations people may need to remove all body hair to prevent or combat infestation by lice, fleas and other parasites.

That said, the main purpose of hair removal is definitely aesthetic.

Interesting, cultural pubic hair removal has had an unexpected positive side-effect: it has probably contributed substantially to the near-eradication of the pubic lice (“crabs”), as reported.

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