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Body Hair Can Sometimes Be Unsightly, Sometimes Unhealthy

Expert FAQ: Dealing With Excess Body Hair

How can I get rid of excess body hair? continued...

Traditionally, this treatment works best for patients with fair skin and dark, thick hair. But there now are lasers specifically designed for darker skin.

If you have darker skin, a word of caution, however: Melanin in the surrounding skin can absorb the laser and cause dark spots or a loss of pigment appearing as white spots on the skin.

On average, six to eight treatments permanently get rid of 80% of excess hair.

  • Electrolysis: With this procedure, heat or chemicals are used to destroy the hair follicle.

An advantage is that it, too, can offer permanent hair removal. But it has a number of drawbacks. Each follicle is treated individually, making it a tedious and time-consuming procedure. The procedure must be repeated on a weekly basis, and the process could take a few years for permanent hair removal.

And since each hair follicle must be treated repeatedly, it can result in an exaggerated pore size or dilated pores that are permanent.

  • Laser hair removal devices for at-home use: These devices can be expensive and have a number of limitations. They are only approved for use on limited areas of the body and cannot be used for facial hair.

They can require a lot of treatment time, so they work best for smaller areas such as the underarms. If used improperly, the device can burn or blister the skin, or even cause blindness. If you have dark skin tones, they can cause your skin to become either darker or lighter.

  • Over-the-counter hair removal creams: These are the most tedious and least effective of the temporary hair removal options. They can irritate and burn the skin, and results only last about a week or two on average.
  • Bleaching: This technique requires upkeep every one to two weeks to keep coarse, dark hair faint and less noticeable.
  • Plucking/waxing: These remove hair for an average of one to three weeks, but can cause side effects. Plucking can cause ingrown hair or folliculitis (acne-like bumps). Waxing can cause temporary burns or skin irritation and should be done professionally.
  • Shaving: This requires daily upkeep and in some cases may be needed twice a day, if you experience a “5 o’clock shadow” effect with hair growing back by the evening hours.
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