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Paradoxical hair growth: How to tackle this rare side effect of hair removal treatments


Handling Paradoxical Hair Growth After Hair Removal

Who doesn’t love a head full of thick, luscious hair? But hair becomes an issue anywhere other than the scalp, especially in a country like India where people are still trolled for body hair. Let’s explore ways to curb paradoxical hair growth.

“Paradoxical hair growth, also known as paradoxical hypertrichosis, is a rare side effect of certain hair removal treatments like laser hair removal or intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy,” said Dr Aparna Santhanam, consultant dermatologist at P D Hinduja Hospital & MRC, Mahim. “Instead of reducing hair growth, it causes an increase in hair density or thickness in the treated or adjacent areas.”

This unexpected outcome may be due to factors such as hormonal changes, genetic predisposition, incorrect treatment parameters, or ineffective laser treatments.

“Paradoxical hair growth can be temporary or persistent, depending on many factors such as individual physiology and the specific treatment received. In some cases, the increased hair growth may diminish over time, especially if the treatment is discontinued. However, for some individuals, paradoxical hair growth may persist even after stopping the treatment,” said Santhanam.

How can you treat this?

Dr Santhanam recommended opting for hair removal treatments performed by experienced and qualified professionals who can accurately assess your skin and hair type.

“One should look at the treatment parameters, such as energy levels and pulse durations, ensuring they are tailored to specific skin and hair characteristics. Optimum energy settings and longer pulse durations on laser systems may reduce the risk of adverse reactions,” she said.

Dr Mikki Singh, founder and medial director of Bodycraft Clinics, Bengaluru, recommended the same.

“Ensure a thorough consultation with a qualified dermatologist or laser technician who can assess your skin and hair type. Perform a patch test on a small area to monitor the skin’s reaction before full treatment and use a laser suitable for your skin and hair type,” said Singh.

Consulting a dermatologist, and in some cases, a gynaecologist, becomes important for appropriate diagnosis of underlying hormonal imbalances or conditions that may contribute to excessive hair growth.

“Try asking your dermatologist if you can switch laser platforms. Switching from an Nd Yag to a diode and vice versa may help reduce paradoxical growth,” said Santhanam.

According to her, post treatment care is necessary. She suggested avoiding the sun and using gentle skincare products to minimise irritation and inflammation.

For long term cure, following the recommended treatment schedule without significant gaps between sessions would help in maintaining effective hair reduction, said Singh.


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