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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Hair elimination won’t lead to herpes

January W. Payne The Washington Post

Waxy Problem – Many women turn to professional waxing to get rid of unwanted hair, but could the practice put salon customers at risk for herpes? A new e-mail making the rounds warns that it could. The message cites a woman’s call to a radio station explaining how she contracted herpes – a virus that mostly causes painful oral or genital sores and blisters – after having her lips and eyebrows waxed at a nail salon in New York. “The married woman who stated that she never cheated was wondering how she possibly got herpes not only on her lip but on her eyebrows,” the e-mail states.

Here’s how, the e-mail suggests – Many salons don’t change wax tools between customers. According to the e-mail, “If someone has herpes those bacteria is now on the stick and now the bacteria festers and grows in the hot wax.”

Don’t Believe It, a Web site that identifies and vets urban legends, says there’s no truth to the tale, citing information from the National Herpes Hot Line. Site co-operator Barbara Mikkelson said she first learned of the rumor when Snopes began receiving five or six e-mails a day about the purported waxer with herpes in early November.

According to Eileen Dunne, a medical epidemiologist who specializes in sexually transmitted diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, herpes is a “very fragile” virus that is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, making transmission via hot wax at a salon “very, very unlikely.” Said Dunne, “A lot of bacteria and viruses (including herpes) don’t like heat and don’t grow well in heat.”

New Stick, Please – Dunne, who said she gets her own eyebrows waxed, said customers worried about herpes transmission should observe salon practice. If a customer sees that a salon does not change the tool used to place wax on the body between customers, she suggests, ask the salon to use a new tool for you. But it’s not necessary to request a new container of wax, she said.

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