Q. If a male uses Nair to remove hair on his genitals, would there be some kind of effect on his sperm, reproduction abilities, sexual performance or general health?
A. Nair and other chemical depilatories dissolve proteins in the keratin of the hair shaft, destroying its structure. This process takes between 4 and 15 minutes depending on the chemical and how coarse the hair is. The hair can then be wiped off the skin gently.
Because depilatories are cosmetics rather than drugs, they don’t have to pass the same rigorous safety requirements as medications. It is unlikely that such products would affect sperm production or sexual performance, but data are lacking.
The main side effect of depilatories is skin irritation. Delicate tissues around the genitals are especially susceptible, so be extremely cautious. Select a product that has been formulated for sensitive areas and follow the instructions for testing it on a small area first.
A safer solution might be laser hair removal. Unlike depilatories, this is permanent, though far more expensive. This procedure is becoming popular with both men and women.
Some time ago we received the following question from a young woman:
Q. This summer I want to wear a bikini to the beach. But when I shave in that area I get ugly red bumps. What can I use to keep this from happening?
A. Dermatologists call bikini bumps pseudofolliculitis barbae. When coarse hairs grow back, they may curl down and become trapped under the skin. This creates the bumps you see. Men may experience similar “razor bumps” from frequent shaving.
To minimize infection, wash the area first with soap and water. Products such as Hydroglide and Razor Rash Relief (www.mooreunique.com) may help soften the hair for easier shaving and prevent post-shaving irritation.
After shaving, a 1 percent hydrocortisone cream may reduce inflammation. Some dermatologists also suggest a topical antibiotic similar to those used to treat acne to lower the risk of infection.
As we pointed out above for our male questioner, a longer lasting approach might be to have the hair in that area removed by laser. This works well for dark hair.