Hair Removal

  • Medical Author:
    Gary W. Cole, MD, FAAD

    Dr. Cole is board certified in dermatology. He obtained his BA degree in bacteriology, his MA degree in microbiology, and his MD at the University of California, Los Angeles. He trained in dermatology at the University of Oregon, where he completed his residency.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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What are the pros and cons of electrolysis?

Electrolysis procedures involve threading a thin wire into a single follicle and then applying an electric current. Depending on the nature of the device, the hair follicle is destroyed either by the production of heat or sodium hydroxide. This process is painful and requires each follicle to be treated individually so that it is quite time-consuming. Multiple treatments of a follicle are often necessary to achieve permanent destruction. Pigmentation at the site of treatment is common. Since each follicle is treated individually, electrolysis of large areas is quite arduous.

What are the pros and cons of shaving?

Depilation is hair removal above the level of the pore (follicular opening). Shaving is the most popular and cheapest type of depilation, and if performed safely, it results in a satisfactory appearance. In order to minimize follicular irritation (folliculitis), one should move the razor in the same direction that the hairs seem to be growing and pull the razor blade over the skin smoothly and evenly only one time. It is important to use a good lubricant to reduce friction between the blade and the skin. It is also important to use a very sharp blade. Electric razors seem to be somewhat less likely to produce irritation, but repeated passes can produce folliculitis. Safe shaving technique does not produce perfectly smooth skin. There should be a short fragment of hair that remains, extending above the surface of the skin. Shaving must be repeated frequently. There are devices (No No) available for home use that "shave" hair by burning it close to the skin surface. This is probably no more effective than shaving.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/6/2015

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