What to Do About That Icky Bikini-Wax Rash

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A bikini wax is when you remove a portion of your pubic hair using special wax. The wax can be hot or cold depending on the exact waxing treatment you are getting. You would normally remove the pubic hair that shows outside the leg openings of bikini-style underwear or swimwear. Some people can develop a nasty and itchy rash after waxing.

Of course, some post-wax redness is expected no matter what, but a few things can make the discomfort worse. First, without that protective layer of hair, your skin can be irritated by rubbing against your clothes. To lessen the friction, wear loose, breathable undies and try not to touch the area for a day or so.

Also, because waxing rips hair out at the root, it opens follicles, making them more prone to infection, aka folliculitis, which leads to red bumps or pustules that may itch (but mostly just look gross). For this, apply over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream to the area twice a day.

And next time you get waxed, avoid swimming or taking long, hot showers—which keep pores open—for at least 24 hours. You can also apply a cool compress with a few drops of alcohol-free toner when you get home to fight bacteria.

Finally, it's possible that you're allergic to the wax, which would cause a painful rash or breakout to appear a day later. Twice-daily hydrocortisone cream works for this, too. Ask your aesthetician to use a different wax next time to see if that helps.

Health's medical editor, Roshini, Rajapaksa, MD, is assistant professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine and co-founder of Tula Skincare.

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