My pubic hair is hurting me all the time. Could it be my underwear?

Thanks for your question! If your pubic hair hurts all the time, your underwear is probably not the culprit. Fortunately, painful pubic hair isn’t a common part of puberty. It’s hard to tell what might be causing the pain without understanding what you’re feeling a bit more—When you say your pubic hair hurts, do you mean that the skin around your pubic hair hurts? Or is the pain deeper?  We recommend you make an appointment with your health care provider, who can tell you exactly what is going on and how to stop the pain.

It’s possible your pubic hair hurts because of ingrown hairs. These happen when the hair curls back inside the skin, rather than growing out of the skin like normal. This can cause irritating, itchy bumps that look like pimples. You may even be able to see the hair just underneath your skin. You can get them anywhere, but ingrown hairs are especially common around the pubic area because the hair there is usually curlier and wirier than in other areas of your body. Usually people get ingrown hairs after they’ve shaved, but you can also get them when your pubic hair is coming in for the first time (especially if you’re Black, Latinx, or have thick, curly hair).

You can avoid ingrown hairs by gently exfoliating your skin. This gets rid of some of the dead skin cells that can block hair follicles and lead to ingrown hairs. While your underwear isn’t causing the problem, wearing cotton underwear with no elastic, lace or other rough fabric that could irritate your skin may help with your pain. If you shave your pubic hair (and there’s no medical reason you need to!), always use a fresh razor, warm water and shaving cream. Shave in the same direction that your hair grows. If you keep getting ingrown hairs, consider trimming your hair instead of removing it, or using a depilatory cream to remove hair instead.

If you don’t have ingrown hairs, there may be something else going on. If your pubic area itches, it’s possible that you have pubic lice or scabies. You don’t need to have had sex to get either of these, and having them does NOT make you “dirty.” If you’re having pain in your pelvic area or around your pubic region, it’s possible you have an infection. While sexually transmitted infections are spread through sexual contact, you don’t necessarily have to have penis in vagina sex to get one. Remember: Having an STI does NOT make you “dirty,” and it doesn’t mean that you’ve done anything “wrong.”

Make an appointment with your health care provider. They can tell you if you’re dealing with ingrown hairs, an infection, or something else. Even if it ends up being nothing, you can relax knowing that you have nothing to worry about. If you live near NYC and are 10-22 years old, you can make a free, confidential appointment with an adolescent medicine specialist at Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center.