Laser hair removal is one of the most popular beauty procedures today.
However, it isn’t completely harmless. Especially when it comes to people with sensitive skin.
Allergic reactions (or hypersensitivity) can occur in such cases and lead to redness, swelling, itching, or even burning of the treated area.
This article presents an overview of potential risks and how you can treat allergic reactions to laser hair removal.
- What are the chances of getting an allergy?
- Symptoms of allergies to lasers
- Rash after laser hair removal
- Red welts after laser hair removal
- Hives after laser hair removal
- Red itchy bumps after laser hair removal
- The use of topical steroids for laser hair removal
- What should I do after laser hair removal?
- Treatment of allergic reactions to laser hair removal
- What precautions should I take to prevent allergic reactions during laser hair removal?
- Final Words
What are the chances of getting an allergy?
As with other types of treatment, the chances of developing an allergy depend on certain factors.
The woman who goes for laser hair removal should know that allergies to laser substances can occur and what the symptoms are. She should also know how to treat allergic reactions to laser hair removal.
Symptoms of allergies to lasers
Laser devices use various light wavelengths. The most popular ones are ND: YAG lasers and Alexandrite lasers.
When a woman has an allergy to the substances contained in these devices, her skin will show certain symptoms. The amount of pain depends on how strong your allergy is. If you have a milder form of allergies, the laser procedure might not be totally painless while more severe types are extremely painful.
The symptoms of allergies to lasers are:
- Flushed face
- Red itchy bumps
- Red welts
- Sometimes blisters
- Tingling and burning sensations
- Peeling skin and skin discoloration (in the most severe cases)
Rash after laser hair removal
If you go for laser hair removal, there is a chance of getting an allergy to the laser substances used in this procedure (most commonly by people who have sensitive skin).
This rash can occur right after the treatment or even several days later. It appears as redness, swelling, itching, or burning of the treated areas.
As it can be difficult to identify the substance used in laser hair removal, you should see your doctor if you notice any skin changes after the procedure.
As with other treatments, allergic reactions can occur in people who have sensitive skin. The risk is higher when certain substances are applied to the skin before or during laser treatment. Such substances can include skin creams, deodorants, and hair removal products.
If you have a history of allergies (for example with certain drugs or pollen), your doctor will probably tell you to stop using the product in question several weeks before the treatment.
The chances of developing an allergy are highest in people who have sensitive skin with visible small blood vessels (Telangiectasia). Such skin is more easily irritated, which increases the likelihood of an allergic reaction.
In addition, people who have a history of allergies to other substances are at a higher risk. This applies especially to those who have had reactions after using certain drugs or foods. These can include antibiotics and aspirin as well as nuts, strawberries, and seafood.
Be aware that any medication you are taking can also increase the risk of allergies to laser hair removal substances. This is because some drugs make the skin more sensitive to sunlight. If this applies to you, your doctor will probably advise you not to have the treatment during the summer months if possible.
Red welts after laser hair removal
If you notice red welts on your skin, don’t automatically assume it’s an allergic reaction to laser hair removal or the substance used.
Red welts and swelling after laser hair removal can also be caused by a bacterial infection (cellulitis). This can occur if bacteria get into the wounds. That’s why some doctors recommend using a topical antibiotic after laser hair removal.
The use of corticosteroids (a steroid drug) can also cause red welts and swelling. They should absolutely not be applied to the skin before laser treatment as this increases the risk of getting an allergy. In addition, you should stop taking them for two weeks if possible before the procedure.
In order to treat red welts from laser hair removal, you should keep the affected area clean and apply a cold compress. It is also advisable to stop taking any medication that might have caused this reaction.
You might need a course of antibiotic treatment if cellulitis occurs as a result of laser hair removal. In other cases, you can use an antihistamine cream to reduce itching.
Hives after laser hair removal
Hives are an allergic reaction with symptoms similar to red welts. However, they are more common.
These can occur after laser hair removal in anyone, regardless of age or gender. They are most often triggered by the substances used for laser hair removal – especially those containing aminolevulinic acid (ALA). These might include:
– Levulan (aminolevulinic acid) cream
– Levulan (aminolevulinic acid) solution
– Metvix (minocycline hydrochloride, ALA, and demineralized water)
If you get hives after laser hair removal, the treatment should be stopped. As with other allergies, contact your doctor immediately.
Hives can be prevented by using a broad-spectrum sunscreen before laser hair removal. This is because the light used during treatment causes photosensitivity. You should therefore avoid sunbathing or using tanning lamps, saunas, and solariums for two weeks before treatment.
Don’t forget to tell the doctor if you are currently taking any medication. If so, your doctor will advise you to stop using the drug in question two weeks before laser hair removal.
Red itchy bumps after laser hair removal
Red itchy bumps after laser hair removal are usually caused by Pseudofolliculitis barbae. Sometimes they are also called shaving pimples, razor burns, itch after depilation, or skin irritation from shaving.
This type of inflammation occurs when dead skin is infected with Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. The condition usually affects those who shave their legs or other parts of the body. However, it can also be caused by laser hair removal if the skin is cut during treatment and then becomes infected.
It’s advisable to take antibiotic medication as soon as you notice red itchy bumps after laser hair removal. If you don’t, they may develop into a more serious infection.
This type of skin reaction can be prevented by keeping the skin clean after laser hair removal and using an antiseptic or antibacterial soap. You should also use a moisturizer to reduce redness, itching, and dryness.
Don’t use any other medication on areas you have had treated with laser hair removal without first consulting your doctor.
It is also possible to treat red itchy bumps after laser hair removal with an antiviral cream, steroid ointment, or antibiotic ointment. If you prefer home remedies, try using honey or yogurt. However, you should only do this when your skin infection has cleared up under medical supervision.
The use of topical steroids for laser hair removal
According to the International Society for Hair Restoration Surgery, the use of topical corticosteroids (steroid drugs) before laser hair removal can increase the risk of sensitization. This is because your skin becomes even more sensitive when you take them.
Therefore, it’s best to avoid using any steroid medication on the skin before laser hair removal. If you do need to use a topical steroid, it’s best not to have the treatment in summer if possible.
What should I do after laser hair removal?
The key to successful laser hair removal is proper preparation and what you do after the treatment.
Some tips for before treatment: Stop taking aspirin as well as anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn). Do not use any medication on the area to be treated. Avoid the sun and use sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher.
After laser hair removal, you should immediately cleanse your skin with lukewarm water and then apply a soothing product such as aloe vera gel or cream (Avene, Cicalfate). Use the cream regularly if your skin is easily irritated by sunlight.
Treatment of allergic reactions to laser hair removal
As soon as you notice any of the above symptoms, stop the procedure immediately. If your reaction is strong, it would be advisable to speak to a doctor. If you want to try and finish the process, it is best to be done by a dermatologist.
The most important thing in the treatment of allergies is to stop the procedure as soon as possible. The longer you go on with it, the worse your skin might get. As such, if you have an allergy or suspect that you might have one, you should never go on with the treatment.
The dermatologist will administer various treatments depending on your condition. These include antihistamines, antibiotics, and steroids. If the swelling is particularly bad, steroid ointment can be used. This alleviates the symptoms and reduces the amount of time it takes for your skin to heal.
What precautions should I take to prevent allergic reactions during laser hair removal?
There are certain things you can do before and during laser hair removal to minimize the risk of developing an allergy:
Tell your dermatologist about any allergies you have. They will probably ask if you suffer from allergies anyway, but making it clear that you know about them will do no harm. Look into the lasers they use and find out what substances they contain. This way you can tell your dermatologist if there is any possibility for you to have an allergy to the laser being used on you.
If there is a possibility of allergies, ask them how big this possibility is. Rather be safe than sorry! If you think that your allergies might get worse during the process, consider using an antihistamine. It will reduce the symptoms of an allergy and make it less painful for you.
Look into getting a laser without any lasers to start off with. This way if you do have an allergy, you can see whether it’s to the laser substance contained in the device or not. If you already have an allergy to ND: YAG or Alexandrite lasers, for example, you might not be able to get one of these devices but there are plenty of alternatives.
Laser hair removal isn’t completely harmless. It might trigger allergies in women who have a predisposition for them.
To avoid this from happening, it is important to inform your dermatologist about any allergies you might have and do your research on the lasers used before going for treatment.
Treating the symptoms of an allergy is nothing too complicated or dangerous either. Doctors can prescribe various treatments that will help keep your condition under control and reduce the amount of pain you feel.
Sometimes, however, an allergy can be too strong for certain treatments to have any effect on it. If you suspect that the laser hair removal procedure might make your condition worse, consider seeing a doctor as soon as possible and ask them if it is safe for you to go ahead or not.
Remember, even if your allergy is not too severe, it could become worse during or after the treatment. So you have to be prepared for any eventualities and know exactly what you are going to do if something were to happen.
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