When it comes to our bodies, there are the regions that are treated in high regard, and then there are the regions that are treated with distrust, if not outright disdain. From the former, we’d likely include our arms, our legs, our chests and, of course, our faces. And in the latter we’d most certainly include our feet, the nasty area between our butt cheeks and, of course, our, ahem, pubic region. After all, those parts of our bodies are sweaty, they’re smelly and if we had our druthers, they’d probably never see the light of day.
So it makes sense that, for example, when you go to the store (never go to the store!) there are electric beard trimmers for your face... and then there’s an entirely different (but more-or-less exactly the same) trimmer — sometimes called a body groomer — for your junk. But aren’t we being a bit overdramatic here? Is the hair and skin around our peas-and-carrots really that different than the hair and skin on our face? How bad would it really be to use one trimmer in both places?
As it turns out, according to the professionals, the answers are “pretty different” and “potentially really bad.” “It comes down to transmission of bacteria,” says microbiologist and “Germ Guy” Jason Tetro. “The pubic area has its own independent microbial community. While most of the bacteria are similar to other areas of the body, the introduction of transient bacteria with a trimmer may end up altering the environment and possibly leading to skin problems.”
The possibility of “skin problems” might not sound too bad, but that’s just if you happen to transfer your face bacteria to your bush and wind up with acne down there, which Tetro explains is a very real likelihood. What’s worse, however, is the chance you transfer something more sinister. “The groin area is a place where many people can harbor staph bacteria, so it’s important that we don’t cross-contaminate and introduce staph to our faces, especially via cuts and abrasions,” explains Dr. Anthony Rossi, a dermatologist with the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Staph infections, i.e., infections involving the Staphylococcus bacteria, are no joke; staph is highly resistant to existing treatments, which is why of the 119,000 people infected with staph in 2017, 20,000 died.
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But before you start sweating over whether you need to buy a second trimmer or, at the very least, throw out your highly suspect current one, keep in mind that the solution to this cross-contamination problem is staring you right in the face. “It’s relatively easy to remove any bacteria from a trimmer — just ensure that the blades are disinfected,” says Tetro. “Soak them in rubbing alcohol for a few minutes. A 70-percent solution will kill any bacteria and ensure that you are not transferring bacteria from one place to another.”
So if you’re wondering if you can use your beard trimmer on your ball hair and your ball-hair trimmer on your beard, the answer is technically “yes.” But considering the cleaning you’ll have to do every time just to avoid infecting yourself with cooties — not to mention the fact that it’s practically natural law that face should never mingle with your pubic region, even by proxy — maybe buy a second trimmer, just to be safe. Or you could just grab that razor and go smooth all over — just sayin!