Many people have unwanted hair. It's common on the upper lip, chin, cheeks, back, legs, fingers, feet, and toes.
It can have many causes, including genetics, certain medications such as steroids, higher levels of certain hormones, and polycystic ovarian syndrome.
There are several ways to remove unwanted hair. With most methods, at least some of the hair will eventually grow back.
Shaving is best for leg, arm, and facial hair. It can, though, cause ingrown hairs, especially in the pubic region.
Plucking or tweezing can be painful, but it may be a good option if you only have a few hairs you want to remove. Times when you might want to pluck include when you're reshaping your eyebrows or pulling out a few stray hairs that appear on your face. You should not, however, use this hair removal method for large areas. It can cause ingrown hairs or scarring.
Hair removal creams, also known as depilatory creams, are available without a prescription.
They're not all the same, so be sure to read the label. For instance, you shouldn't use a hair removal cream made for pubic hairs to remove hair on your face.
The chemicals in these products dissolve the hair shaft. Using a cream improperly -- for instance, leaving it on too long -- can burn your skin. If you have a history of allergic reactions, you should first test a little bit of the cream on a small area on your arm to make sure you don’t have a bad reaction to it. Be sure to follow the directions on the cream.
You can do this at home or you can have it done by a professional in a salon. Hot waxing can be messy and painful and may leave some hairs behind because they can break off. Infection is one side effect to watch for. If the wax is too hot, you may get a burn. You should not use this method if you also use certain types of prescription acne creams (such as Retin-A) or take isotretinoin. If you do, the wax will pull your skin off. Many women use this hair removal method in the bikini area and to remove hair on the upper lip.
Threading is a traditional Indian method of hair removal that some salons offer. The professionals who do threading use strings they twist in a pattern and use to pull unwanted hair out.
Laser Hair Removal
This is one of the longest-lasting methods, but it generally requires four or more treatments 4-6 weeks apart. It can only be effective on dark hair.
The laser beam or a light pulse works to destroy the hair bulb. The treatment can be expensive and sometimes painful, but it can be used on many parts of the body where unwanted hair appears. Be sure you select a doctor or technician who is highly trained and knowledgeable.
Electrolysis is done by a professional who places a tiny needle with an electric current in the hair follicle. There are two primary hair removal methods with electrolysis: galvanic and thermolytic.
- Galvanic hair removal chemically destroys the hair follicle.
- Thermolytic removal uses heat to destroy the follicle.
In either case, be sure to find a professional who is highly trained and knowledgeable.
You can get electrolysis on any part of the body.
Medications and Unwanted Hair
If none of these hair removal methods help, you may want to ask your doctor's advice. There are drugs that inhibit hair growth.
Spironolactone is a pill that may slow or reduce hair growth in areas that you don’t want hair. It will not get rid of the hair on your scalp and may actually stimulate growth there.
There is a prescription cream called Vaniqa that's approved by the FDA for slowing facial hair growth in women. This cream slows growth, but it will not remove the hair. You apply it to the area twice a day. Once you stop using the cream, the hair will regrow.