Monthly Archives: October 2016

The reason to rethink getting a Brazilian wax

Forget the basic bikini wax. The Brazilian wax— which entails removing all of the hair down there (even between the cheeks!)— has become as standard a rite of summer for some women as spray tans and pedicures.

In fact, many of us wouldn’t dare to slip into a swimsuit before enduring the 30 or so minutes of physical torture it takes to achieve the sexy, sleek, “clean” look and feel that a Brazilian offers. No question, the salon treatment is popular and even aesthetically pleasing— but is it healthy?

Being bare may seem more hygienic than sporting a full bush, but actually, the opposite is true. “We have pubic hair for a reason,” says Whitney Bowe, MD, a dermatologist in Briarcliff Manor, NY and clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical School in New York City. “It acts as a shield against bacteria, allergens, and other unwanted pathogens.” Stripping away that natural barrier puts you at higher risk of irritation or infection in the vaginal area, Dr. Bowe explains. (And there are more germs than you even want to know about lurking in sand, salt water, and the community pool.)

The best way to go bare

We get it, though: An untamed nether region doesn’t exactly complement that itty-bitty bikini you just bought. So if you’re not going to forgo waxing altogether, what’s the best solution? Dr. Bowe recommends leaving a small triangle of hair behind instead of removing every single strand. Commonly known as the triangle trim, this style leaves you just the right balance between protecting your vajayjay and keeping your bikini line looking hair-free when you’re sporting a swimsuit.

Ready to try the triangle trim? Follow these ladyscaping secrets to make your wax-perience as quick, safe and painless as possible:

Prepare for takeoff

Trim hair to half an inch before your appointment; any longer or shorter, and the wax may not be able to grip properly. Find a salon that uses hard wax, which adheres to the hair— not the skin— better than the soft kind, removing more of the “ouch” factor along with the unwanted fuzz.

Make it last

“Over-waxing can destroy the hair canal, leading to permanent ingrowns,” Dr. Bowe says. Aim to go six weeks between waxes, maintaining the triangle shape in between by shaving. Try the new Schick Hydro Silk TrimStyle ($16, walgreens.com) for total convenience— it combines a hair trimmer and razor in one tiny gadget.

Get a sleeker shave

For the closest cut, first run the razor in the direction of growth and then against. Another perk: “Stubble will grow in much thinner with this back-and-forth technique,” Dr. Bowe notes. Make sure to rinse the razor after every pass so it’s not blocked by hairs stuck between the blades.

Banish the bumps

If you’re prone to ingrown hairs, reach for pads or scrubs with salicylic acid two days after waxing or shaving (use them too soon and you may feel your still-sensitive skin start to burn). These gently exfoliate, allowing hair to grow back free and clear of dead skin cells and dirt so it doesn’t loop back on itself and create painful bumps. One product to try: Completely Bare Bikini Bump Blaster Pads ($9, ulta.com).

Wash wisely

One of the biggest mistakes women make is over-washing the vaginal area, says Dr. Bowe: Too much scrubbing and using too many products can irritate the delicate skin there and even lead to infection. Add waxing to that equation and you’re just cruising for a world of hurt down there. Use only a mild soap, like Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Antibacterial Bar ($5, drugstore.com), or even just water to clean the vulva (e.g. your external genitalia). No need to get all up inside of your vagina proper; it naturally self-cleans.

How to get rid of back acne

You may not know you have it, or you might be painfully, embarrassingly aware. But the fact of the matter is that back acne (a.k.a. bacne) is extremely common, especially in the summertime.

Think about it: You sweat more while working out, during the day, and while you sleep at night. Exposure to the sun dries out your skin, creating clogged pores. Worst of all, in the summertime you are more likely to be dehydrated. It’s basically a perfect recipe for breakouts. And this is the time of year when you want to show off your body, not hide it under a shirt at the beach.

Luckily, there’s a lot you can do to prevent and treat the scourge of pimples setting up camp between your shoulder blades. So before you give up hope or rush to a dermatologist, here is your anti-bacne summer checklist:

Do your laundry more often
Because you sweat more, you also need to clean your clothes and your linens more often. So while your sheets may not feel dirty after a week or two, trust us they are. And in the summer you may be more likely sleep in the nude, therefore just rubbing week-old sweat and dead skin back into your pores. Get it? Wash your sheets at least once a week with fragrance-free laundry detergent. Fragrance and other additives can irritate sensitive skin.

If you can’t wash your gym clothes after each use, you can clean them in the shower post-workout and hang them to dry. Make it your mission this summer to treat your skin to freshly laundered fabric.

Beware of too much sun
Overexposure to the sun’s rays dries you out and creates dead, flakey skin. That dead skin clogs the pores on your back and shoulders. This causes pimples. So you should be careful to always use sunscreen and refrain from laying out in the sun too much—it also causes cancer, which you don’t want either.

Choose your grooming products wisely
Speaking of sunscreen, if you are prone to bacne you’ll want to use one that is lightweight, waterproof, and oil free. That way your skin can breathe. While you’re at it, it’s also a good idea to switch to an oil-free body lotion.

Exfoliate
Probably the most important thing you can do is exfoliate. Whether you use a body scrub, a loofa, or a back brush, it’s an important step in removing the dead skin and bacteria that clogs your pores and creates acne. Do it once a day in the shower for a few minutes at moderate intensity—you’re not trying to remove your skin all together.

Try a medicated body wash
Medicated body wash with salicylic acid and anti-bacterial soaps can do wonders in the fight against bacne. Find one that won’t suck all the moisture out of your skin.

Last, beauty works from the inside, out
Stress and a diet full of garbage can take their toll on your skin. So can excess drinking. It stands to reason that you should therefore drink lots of water, get enough sleep, don’t eat pizza three times a day, and get moderate exercise.

New Bacteria in Tattoo Infections

The infections involved Mycobacterium haemophilum, which usually only strikes individuals whose immune system are compromised. In this instance, however, the patients, both from Seattle, developed rashing despite the fact that both had normal immune systems, a report on the investigation found.

“Two people developed chronic skin infections after receiving tattoos at the same parlor,” explained study lead author Dr. Meagan K. Kay from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “The patrons were thought to have been exposed through use of tap water during rinsing and diluting of inks.”

Kay, an epidemic intelligence service officer with the CDC, and her team report their findings in the September issue of the CDC’s journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.

The authors pointed out that tattooing is not considered a sterile procedure, is not regulated at the federal level and can be risky. And while the specific inks and colorings (pigments) commonly used to apply tattoos are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the rules usually apply only when cosmetics or color additives are involved.

The latest concern about associated infection risk arose in 2009 when a 44-year-old man and a 35-year-old man sought care for skin infections that had developed at the site of tattoos acquired at a facility in the Seattle region.

Lesion cultures and lab testing revealed that M. haemophilum was the culprit in the case of the first patient. Skin evaluations and patient interviews led the researchers to conclude that the second man most probably also suffered from the same sort of bacterial infection, although they technically classified his situation as a “suspected case.”

A follow-up investigation of the tattoo parlor revealed that municipal water had been used to dilute the ink during the tattooing process.

Water is considered to be a source for M. haemophilum. And though the facility was cleared of any safety violations, and no M. haemophilum bacteria was found in analyzed water samples, the tattoo operators were told to use sterile water for all future tattoo applications.

“It is important to remember that tattooing is not a sterile procedure and infections can occur after tattoo receipt,” Kay said. “Measures should be taken by tattoo artists to prevent infections, including proper training, use of sterile equipment, and maintaining a clean facility. Use of tap water during any part of the tattoo procedure should be avoided,” she explained.

“Those who suspect an infection in their tattoo should consult with their doctors,” she added. “Common infections can present as increased redness, warmth, swelling, pain and discharge.”

Myrna L. Armstrong, professor emeritus at the school of nursing at Texas Tech University’s Health Sciences Center in Lubbock, said the investigation serves to highlight the general risks of getting a tattoo.

“This is an invasive procedure. And there’s basically no regulation in force. Or very sporadic regulation. So as someone who’s been looking into tattoos and body piercing for more than 20 years, I would say that it’s really not very surprising that this can happen,” Armstrong said.

“So while I’m not being negative to the industry, I do think that the customer does need to be aware of the situation he or she is getting into,” she added. “Shop around, review people’s techniques, and make sure [you] really want to have this done.”