Saturday December 4 2010

To shave or not to shave


By Dr Vincent Karuhanga

There’s nothing wrong with trimming your pubic hair or doing some grooming. But Dr Vincent Karuhanga writes that, shaving has some consequences you may not have considered

The skin except in a few places like palms and soles is covered by hair. All hair types and its distribution is the same in humans before puberty. All our body areas have vellus hair except the brows, eyelashes and scalp that have thick visible hair. After puberty, a woman develops thick hair on the pubis apart from the armpits and for a man it will be the beards and for some men on the chest. Many women have dubbed it the blanket of love.

Hair on the head has the feeble function of protecting the scalp from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. And the bald headed are protected by the shine which acts as a “reflectors”.

While eyebrows prevent sweat from entering the eyes, pubic hair serves a sexual role since it comes during puberty. Pubic hair silently announces sexual maturity in any human being and its depth has its aesthetic function. Now here is why you should consider shaving or not shaving off the pubic hair.

Pubic hair prevents friction
Scent glands develop in both girls and boys’ armpits and pubes at the time of puberty to coincide with the start of pubic hair growth. Apart from hair preventing friction in these mobile areas, it serves as wicks to disperse some of the chemicals produced by the scent glands (called pheromones) for sexual attraction.

It is unfortunate that axillary and pubic hair are mowed down as soon as they appear despite the said innumerable functions as compared to scalp hair which women choose to grow to great lengths.

Women give various reasons as to why they shave. As a woman approaches her menstruation period, shaving keeps her clean despite the blood soiling of the private parts. Surprisingly, some women who naturally smart a bare pubis are shunned because they are believed to carry bad luck. Men may be because they have no reasons to shave do not shave significantly that much except of course as a general rule for reducing body odour.

The likelihood of transmitting infections
Shaving sharpens the pubic hair in that it not only hurts a sexual partner but also pierce a condom and manhood with a likelihood of transmitting infections like HIV, Hepatitis B&C and Venereal warts. These conditions require mere microscopic injuries to be allowed entry. It could even be worse if a shaver or razor is shared and pubic skin damaged.

Sprouting of boils or bumps
Shaving has its own problems. It can damage the skin around the hairs leading to small pimples which may turn to boils (folliculitis). The cut pubic hair usually curly after shaving, grows curving downwards, damaging the skin and leading to razor bumps (pseudo-folliculitis). Treating both conditions even when successful, may leave one with scars that may be disfiguring regardless of less exposure of the areas.

Shaving creams, can bring allergies
Many women today use shaving creams or hair removers though in some cases they don’t survive the associated allergies and scratching. Scratching may lead to injuries to the pubis opening the area to secondary bacterial infection, and if done in public is overtly offensive.

Way forward
So the solution is either to give up shaving or to cut the hair short using curved scissors. But in case one is not allergic to the shaving creams then you can use them.

May be we have not yet appreciated why pubic hair has continued to grow despite the incessant shaving. But just like the new trend among men to get circumcised to prevent HIV, it is not a far cry if women get involved in the noble HIV prevention by ending shaving of pubic hair.

Since hair acts as wicks to disperse the pheromones for sexual attraction, it is then the order of nature that pubic and axillary hair should be spared the knife if they are to answer nature’s responsibilities resulting from being attractive.