How Do Dermatologists Treat Facial Hair on Women?

Introduction

The growth of hair on the face, underarms, arms and legs is something that is shared by both men and women alike. Unfortunately, for most women, noticeable hair in these places is not a desirable trait. When methods such as shaving, waxing and depilatory removal creams reach their limits, many women choose to turn to their dermatologist for a more permanent solution.

A woman is receiving laser hair removal on her upper lip. (Image: Carol_Anne/iStock/Getty Images)

Laser

Laser hair removal is one popular option provided by dermatologists. Laser hair removal works by using a specialized laser that penetrates into the deeper layers of the skin. By using the pigment of the hair as a guide, the laser targets the hair follicle and uses the heat of the laser to disrupt the hair's ability to grow.

Although some clinics may try to pass off laser hair removal as permanent, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), laser hair removal can only be advertised as permanent reduction, not permanent removal. This is due to the laser's inability to 100 percent target and destroy hair in all skin and hair types. Laser hair removal typically works best for those with light skin and dark hair, and may take several treatments before significant results are seen.

Electrolysis

Electrolysis is another option that your dermatologist may recommend for the removal of hair. During electrolysis, a small needle-like probe is placed into the hair follicle. Once in the hair follicle, the probe delivers a small shock, which is enough to kill the follicle. According to the FDA, since the hair follicle is destroyed, it can be considered a permanent hair removal option.

Prescription

One newer product to reach the hair removal market is the prescription topical cream Vaniqa. Vaniqa uses the active ingredient eflornithine hydrochloride to interfere with enzyme production. The enzymes that Vaniqa targets are responsible for the cell reproduction needed to create the hair shaft. Vaniqa must be prescribed by your dermatologist, and is applied twice a day. The product only works as long as you are using it, and regular hair growth will return within eight weeks after stopping the product's use. Vaniqua is an FDA-approved product for hair removal.

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