What to do about unwanted hair?

A patient of mine recently asked me to blog about female unwanted facial hair.   She has more facial hair than she desires and works with children (who frequently are inquisitive and vocal).  This is not a singular problem, most of post-pubertal persons in the world routinely practice some form of hair removal.  Plucking or shaving are common. . . here are a few others to consider.

The temporary methods are just that, temporary–although sometimes the dermal papilla are damaged by the removal, leading to permanent removal of hair.

  • Plucking is effective, often lasting for 6 to 8 weeks, and often painful.  Plucking is best for selective area with small numbers of unwanted hairs.
  • Waxing involves applying a layer of cold or hot wax to the area and when the wax is pulled off, the trapped hairs are pulled out.  For some, this is less painful than plucking.  This pulls the hair out down to the bulb.
  • Depilation is the use of a chemical to dissolve the hair, which is then wiped off.  Most contain sulfur which produces an unpleasant odor, and the results only last 2 weeks.
  • Shaving is common, only removes hair to just below the surface of the skin, and may need to be repeated every 12 to 24 hours.  Shave bumps are especially common in black men.  Shaving can cause infection of the skin with staph aureus or spread warts or molluscum.
  • Bleaching does not remove hair, but may mask its presence.  The hydrogen peroxide may cause irritation, itching and possible skin discoloration.  Try this on a small area of skin first to make sure you do not make a reaction.
  • Vaniqa (FDA approved only for the face) is a prescription strength cream which can reduce hair growth by inhibiting an enzyme the hair needs to grow.  This is my patient’s favorite (and the reason she asked me to blog on the subject).  Noticeable results in 6-8 weeks.  When treatment stopped, hair returns to pretreatment levels in another 8 weeks.
  •  Lasers are effective, multiple treatments are needed, and it works best on dark hair.  A dermatologists or plastic surgeon can help.
  • Electrolysis permanently removes hair, usually performed at spas and not physician offices.  Technicians are not required to be formally trained.

Hope this helps.

About drlesliegreenberg

I have been practicing as a family physician for over 20 years--as both an educator of physicians and clinician. From infancy to the elderly, I perform obstetrics and general medicine. I love my career and am passionate about my field of knowledge and my patients. Follow me on Facebook at Leslie Md Greenberg Medical Disclaimer The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider.
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