Many men and women struggle with unwanted hair. Unwanted hair growth can stem from a medical condition such as hirsutism and hypertrichosis, which can be caused by the following: medications, hormone imbalance, diet, endocrine disorders & metabolic problems. Of course there are both men and women who choose to treat hair solely for a cosmetic reason and not because they have one of the two medical conditions. Here are a few options for those wanting to get rid of unwanted hair, either temporarily or permanently.
- Waxing pulls the hair out from the follicle. Generally results last between two and four weeks depending on hair type and thickness. Waxing requires some regrowth between treatments, about ¼ of an inch. This option of hair removal is quick, but sometimes leads to ingrown hairs.
- Sugaring it removes the hair from the follicle with a water soluble paste. The paste does not stick to the skin as much as much as wax; lessening irritation. Results from sugaring can last up to six weeks and requires less regrowth between treatments than waxing, about 1/16 of an inch. Some say that it is less painful than waxing.
- Over-the-counter hair removal products can come in many different forms, from gels to foam. These products chemically weaken the hair so that you can wipe the hair away after the product has set for the recommended time. These products make for quick and painless hair removal; however the chemicals can irritate sensitive skin.
- The gold standard of removing unwanted hair safely and effectively remains laser and light-based hair removal devices, approved for permanent reduction of hair growth. Due to new advancements in laser technology, people of darker skin types can now be more safely treated. Laser and light-based devices send wavelengths of light down into the hair follicle to cause destruction. Due to the hair growing in different cycles, it is important for several treatments 4-6 weeks apart to ensure efficacy.
- Electrolysis is indicated for people who are not good candidates for laser hair removal such as people with very dark pigmented skin or for hair color that is very fair. It is approved for permanent hair removal. The downside to having electrolysis is that it can be very time consuming requiring often years of treatment.
- Topical cream (Vaniqa) is an alternative treatment for women with facial hair growth. This is a prescription-only product that would be prescribed by your health care provider.
- At-home light devices have been making their way to the market place in recent years. Efficacy is all across the board. It is recommended for one to be assessed first by a healthcare provider before one uses an at-home device or there is a risk of burning and/or darkening of the skin.
From waxing to medical treatment, there are a variety of options for all skin types and budgets. To ensure that you achieve the best results possible, consult with a dermatology specialist.
— By Shane Keck, PA-C, MPAS
Physician Assistant Shane Keck of Pūr Skin Clinic in downtown Edmonds has over five years of medical and cosmetic dermatology experience. He completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Kansas and his Masters of Physician Assistant degree at Wichita State University.