Laser hair removal is a fantastic way to permanently eradicate any unwanted hair. But, if you know you have particularly sensitive skin, you're probably hesitant to proceed because you're worried about skin irritation. The good news is that there are a few things you can do both before and after your treatment to minimize any burning or redness.
Ice the Affected Area
Talk with your doctor before the procedure; he or she is probably willing to let you ice the intended removal site before and after your procedure. The coldness of an ice pack is able to reduce circulation of blood flow by constricting surface veins, which in turn reduces any inflammation or pain you could experience. If you want a longer lasting cooling effect, you could apply some cold aloe vera to the area. Just like it would treat a sunburn, some cold aloe can definitely minimize burning and redness.
Choose the Right Laser
Different lasers with different wavelengths can be used depending on your skin tone, hair follicle thickness, and other factors. However, you should talk to your doctor about which laser would also cause the least amount of pain. For instance, one study showed that Nd: YAG systems caused less pain compared to alexandrite lasers. Your doctor may want to do a combination therapy of both lasers to speed up the process, but you can request to only use one kind of laser since the study also reported that combination therapies caused more pain. And, since combination therapies weren't shown to be any more effective, why risk it?
Request a Dynamic Cooling Device
A dynamic cooling device (DCD) is a cryogen that can be sprayed onto your skin before lasering. It partially numbs the area and gives a cooling effect like aloe. It can reduce burning sensations and make you feel much more comfortable during the procedure. One study showed that a drastic reduction in pain was one of the best benefits of DCD.
Go Easy On Your Nightly Skin Routine
If you have sensitive skin, you probably do your best to avoid fragrances and strong ingredients in your skincare products. However, if you are currently using products that contain ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, you may want to stop altogether during your treatments. Since these ingredients dry out your skin, they could exacerbate areas that you've just had lasered.
While you'll still be allowed to go out in the sun or get laser treatment during the summer, you cannot tan 72 hours before laser hair removal since tanning increases your sensitivity to heat and risk for burns. Since tanned skin has a similar pigmentation to the hairs you'll want to remove, you'd have to come in for more treatments for safe removal. Be sure to use sunscreen before and after your treatment to keep your skin from becoming irritated and to make it easier for the doctor to remove the hair in fewer treatments.
Ultimately, laser hair removal is very safe, but you do need to do your part if you know that you have particularly sensitive skin. If you are worried about burning or pain, ask a doctor, such as Drs. Young & Wouters, about icing tips or about oral analgesics that are allowed during treatment. Your doctor will have lots of good tips about how to make this procedure as comfortable as possible.