What is Wax Burn?
Wax burn is a common skin condition caused by repeated application of petroleum jelly (Cetaphil) or other topical antiseptic creams containing alcohol. These products are applied to the affected area, leaving it dry and irritated. This irritation causes redness, swelling and even blisters which may become infected due to bacteria growths growing inside them.
How Does Wax Burn Affect My Skin?
Wax burn occurs when the product is left on your skin too long. When used regularly, these creams leave behind a thin film of oil on the skin. This thick layer of oil prevents moisture from being absorbed into the skin causing it to remain dry and irritated. Wax burns can occur anywhere on your body including your face, hands, feet and genitals. They usually appear first as small red bumps which then enlarge over time until they turn black or brown.
Why Do I Get Wax Burn?
The reason why you get wax burn is because you apply the cream or gel on your skin without washing off any residue first. If you wash off the cream before applying it, there will be no residue left behind. So if you use a cream containing alcohol, then after using it for a few days, the cream will have dried up and left behind some residues on your skin. These residues act in the same way as a waxing strip. When the hair is pulled out from the roots after application of this product, it also pulls off some skin in the process.
What Are the Different Types of Wax Burn?
The different types of wax burn include:
Distilled Witch Hazel: Developed in 1894 by David H. McConnell, this type of witch hazel uses water to extract the active ingredients from the Hamamelis virginiana plant. The result of this extraction is a colorless to pale yellow liquid. The primary ingredient in this solution is alcohol which acts as a natural anti-inflammatory and skin protectant.
Aluminum Chloride: This solution is a common ingredient found in over-the-counter hemorrhoid creams. It can also be found in some hair removers. It works by causing irritation to the skin, which results in the shrinking of blood capillaries and an increase in blood flow. This causes the hair to swell and become easier to remove.
How Do I Get Wax Burn?
The best way to get wax burn is by using antiseptic creams that contain ingredients such as alcohol, menthol, camphor or phenol. These ingredients tend to be present in a lot of over-the-counter hemorrhoid ointments. These can also be found in some hair removal creams and gels.
Wax burn is common among women and affects the armpit, bikini line, face, hands, feet and genitals. It is typically seen among people who use hair removal creams on a regular basis. Other factors that put you at risk of getting a wax burn include:
Frequent waxing or shaving
If you have fair skin that easily burns or bruises
How Is Wax Burn Diagnosed?
Your doctor will need to do a physical examination along with a review of your medical history before they can make a diagnosis. Due to the wide variety of symptoms that wax burns can cause, your doctor will ask you several questions in order to rule out other possible conditions.
During the physical examination, your doctor will check for hard lumps, open wounds, redness or irritation. They will also check for any abnormalities or discoloration on your skin in the affected area. If you are experiencing pain with your skin, they may ask you about what type of pain you are feeling and its location.
What Are the Different Types of Treatment Needed?
The different types of treatment needed for wax burn include:
Antibiotics if there is evidence of an infection
How Can I Prevent Wax Burn?
The best way to prevent wax burn is to avoid using hair removal creams or gels. These are not only hard on your skin but can also cause severe burns when used incorrectly. It is best to see a doctor before using these types of creams and gels. They may recommend that you use an over-the-counter alternative such as a cream or lotion containing retinol, alpha hydroxy acids, or salicylic acid.
If you do experience a wax burn, it is important to keep the area clean and treat any symptoms of infection right away. If you notice pus, yellow or green liquid draining from the wound, along with redness or swelling, seek medical attention right away.
Another way to prevent wax burn is to not wax or shave the same area too often. If you notice any burning, itching or irritation after using a hair removal cream or gel, this may be a sign that your skin can no longer tolerate that product. You may want to talk to your doctor about other hair removal options if you do not want to give up on your hair-free lifestyle.
If you experience pain, a burning or stinging sensation, swelling, redness or any other side effect when using hair removal cream or gel, stop using it immediately and seek medical attention. You may have an allergy to the product or you could be suffering from a more severe burn. If the area is extremely painful, swollen or red, you may be suffering from an infection. Antibiotics may be needed to clear up the infection.
When to See a Doctor
Seek medical attention if you notice:
Pus, yellow or green liquid draining from the wound
Redness or swelling along with pain and soreness
An area of redness that is larger than the area of the burn after it has cooled and the skin injury has occurred
Any signs of infection such as red streaks going away from the burn, fever or chills
Atypical symptoms such as numbness, tingling or severe pain
How to Prevent Infection
One of the biggest risks of suffering from a wax burn is getting an infection. Due to the warm, wet environment of the genitals, there is a higher risk of developing an infection from a wax burn. Redness, swelling, pus or any type of green or yellow drainage are all signs that you may have an infection.
Infections are very serious and can lead to hospitalization if not treated immediately. If you notice these symptoms, seek medical attention right away or contact your doctor.
What is the Long-Term Treatment for Wax Burn?
A wax burn can be devastating, especially when it occurs in a sensitive area like the genitals. There are many risks associated with wax burns including allergic reactions, hair follicles becoming paralyzed, shock, infection and scarring.
Long-term treatment for wax burn will vary depending on the location of the burn, how serious it is and if there are any other symptoms. Your doctor will determine what the best course of treatment is after examining the injury. They may prescribe an antibiotic or steroid cream to help fight off any potential infection. They may also suggest that you apply saline soaks and gentle pressure to reduce the swelling while you are waiting to see them.
If the area becomes red, swollen or painful after treatment, be sure to contact your physician.
If the burn is on a major artery, vein or nerve, you may require surgery to remove the tissue that was damaged. Skin grafts and skin transplants may be necessary depending on the size of the injury. In some cases, there will be permanent damage such as a loss of feeling in the area of the burn. This can affect your quality of life after recovery, so take steps to prevent this from happening.
Speak to your doctor if you are experiencing problems with pain that won’t go away, a loss of sensation or problems with sexual function after your burn has healed. You may need additional treatment if the burn has caused damage to the nerves.
Preventing Wax Burn
While wax burns can be very serious, they are completely preventable. If you or your partner have been diagnosed with overly sensitive skin, ask your doctor if there are any special precautions that you should take when engaging in sexual activity. You may need to switch to silicone-based or oil-based lubricants rather than petroleum jelly.
If you or your partner has an injury or diseased skin in the genital area, do not have penetration until you have received treatment and the medical professional says that it is safe. Petroleum jelly can actually trap bacteria under the skin, leading to infection. If you notice signs of an infection such as redness, puss, swelling or pain, seek treatment immediately.
Never try any type of home remedy before seeing a medical professional. Some people may believe that they can soak the area in vinegar or use a curd-type substance like yogurt to soothe the burn, but these can cause allergic reactions in some people. If you aren’t sure if a home remedy is safe, talk to your doctor before trying it.
Never apply any type of ointment, cream or oil to the genitals without talking to your doctor first. Some of these can trap bacteria and actually cause more severe problems such as infection. If you want to use a personal lubricant, talk to your doctor to see what is safe. They can also direct you to a over-the-counter product that is known to be gentle on sensitive skin.
When engaging in sexual activity with a new partner, tell them if you have overly sensitive skin or an injury in the genital area. They need to be aware of this before anything happens so they don’t accidentally cause you physical harm. They may also have recommendations on what they like as far as personal lubricants.
If you are performing a genital wax on your partner, take extra care and go slowly. Check in with them to see if the temperature is comfortable before putting any more hot wax on the area. Always keep the area as clean as possible to avoid infection and take a few moments to apply an antibiotic ointment after the wax has been removed.
Treating a Wax Burn
If you experience a wax burn in or around your genital area, it is best to seek medical attention. A doctor can assess the damage and determine if additional treatment is necessary. They can also provide you with medication to help soothe the pain and reduce any swelling that may have occurred. Keep the burned area as clean as possible and stay away from hot baths or showers until the skin has healed.
If the burn is on your genitals, you should avoid sexual activity until it has healed completely.
If you or your partner experience an allergic reaction to the hot wax, it is best to seek immediate medical attention. An allergic reaction can cause difficulty in breathing, a swollen throat or even irregular heartbeat. This can be life-threatening and must be treated as soon as possible by calling 911 or going to the emergency room.
After seeking medical help if needed, you can use the following tips to take care of a wax burn:
Avoid hot baths or showers. Take cool showers instead and gently pat the skin dry when finished. You can also use a washcloth to dab the area dry. Do not rub it.
Apply an over-the-counter 1% hydrocortisone cream or aqueous cream (available at most drug stores) to the area 2 to 3 times daily. This will help reduce the swelling and decrease the pain and itching.
Apply an over-the-counter 1% antibacterial ointment (such as Polysporin) 2 to 3 times daily. This will protect the burn from infection and also help prevent excessive swelling.
Keep the area elevated above the heart if possible. This can help decrease any swelling that may have occurred.
Take an over-the-counter pain reliever (such as Tylenol).
If the pain is severe, your doctor may give you a prescription for pain medication. If they do, take it as directed.
It usually takes at least 7 days for a wax burn to heal completely. Continue using the creams and ointments for at least that long or as directed on the package. Stop using the hydrocortisone cream after the skin has healed unless the area becomes irritated again.
Make sure you seek medical attention if the following occur:
The skin becomes red or swollen and/or hot to the touch. This may indicate an infection and you should see your doctor to get a prescription for an antibiotic ointment.
The pain is severe and does not seem to be getting better with the over-the-counter treatments. You may have a more serious burn that requires medical attention.
It is taking longer than 7 days for the skin to heal. You may need a stronger prescription steroid cream or even have the wax removed by a doctor.
You notice the area getting red and raised after using the over-the-counter creams. This may be a reaction to one of the ingredients and you should discontinue use immediately. Seek medical attention if this occurs.
As long as you seek medical attention if needed and follow the aftercare instructions, your wax burn should heal completely within a week or two. You can then resume your hot wax play with less fear of complications.
Just as it is important to know how to deal with a medical emergency that may arise during your wax play, it’s also important to know how to end the session if necessary. Sometimes things happen and you may not be in the right headspace to continue. It is always a good idea to have a safeword that you and your partner can use to stop or slow down the action if needed.
There are different theories on what would be the best word to use. Some people choose words that are hard to say like “yellow” or “red”. Others choose words that don’t seem like they would come out of a person’s mouth during intimacy such as “pineapple” or “rhino”. Some even use the honor system and simply have their partner simply say “stop” or “no more”.
Whatever word you decide to use, it is important that you and your partner agree on it and that you both remember it (or something similar) during the course of your play.
A Safer Alternative…
Wax play can be a very fun and gratifying activity if done with the right person in a safe environment.
It is important that you choose someone you trust and feel comfortable around. You also need to make sure you have all the proper safety equipment on hand (cloths, ice, aloe vera, bandages, gloves, etc.) before you begin and that you keep these items close by during the wax play session.
Wax play can be very fun and satisfying or it may cause a great deal of unnecessary pain and injury. Whether you decide to engage in it or not is entirely up to you. Just make sure that if you do, you’re doing so safely.
$ave the Dates!
You now have all the tools you need to embark on your own path of wax play. So get out there, have some fun and enjoy!
If you need some ideas on where to start or want to share your experiences with us, please drop us a line in the Forum!
Next month, we’re going to discuss how to handle a tickling predicament. Tickling can be a fun way to cause uncontrollable laughter and it can be a great way to break the ice and get yourself in the mood. However, it is also a very sensitive action that can quickly cross the line from playful to mean. We’ll talk about how to get the most out of tickling without stepping over that line.
Until then, stay safe and have fun!
(Ed. Note: Special thanks to “G” for submitting this month’s topic suggestion! ^_^ )
Sources & references used in this article:
Lycon what you see by L Jordane – Professional Beauty, 2018 – search.informit.com.au
The Brazilian wax: New hairlessness norm for women? by MP Labre – Journal of Communication Inquiry, 2002 – journals.sagepub.com
Waxing Lyrical by L Carter – Professional Beauty, 2011 – search.informit.com.au
What makes teens tick by C Wallis, K Dell – Time Magazine, 2004 – riverdell.org