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Antibiotics and Laser Hair Removal

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Dr. Hardik Soni

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Is It Safe to Get Laser Hair Removal While on Antibiotics?

At Ethos Aesthetics & Wellness, we often receive inquiries from patients about whether it is safe to undergo laser hair removal while taking oral antibiotics.

As antibiotics can increase photosensitivity, special care must be taken. Ideally, you should avoid laser hair removal treatment if you are currently taking antibiotics. Antibiotics can increase your skin’s sensitivity to light and slow down the healing process after laser treatment. 

It is recommended to wait at least 2 weeks after finishing the antibiotic course before undergoing laser hair removal

How Do Antibiotics Interact with Laser Hair Removal?

armpit laser hair removal treatment

Many common antibiotics like doxycycline and minocycline have photosensitizing effects. This means they make skin more sensitive to light. Laser hair removal uses concentrated light energy to target hair follicles in the skin. Effects of photosensitivity may include:

  • Increased risk of burning, blistering, or scarring from the laser light.
  • Development of rashes or irritation after treatment.
  • Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation or skin discoloration.
  • Poor treatment results from lower laser settings needed to prevent reactions.

Topical antibiotics generally pose little issues for laser therapy. But oral tetracyclines, fluoroquinolones, and sulfa drugs present concerns due to whole body photosensitivity that lingers after stopping the medications.

Other drugs like retinoids, NSAIDs, diuretics, antihistamines, and psychiatric medications also increase photosensitivity. Dr. Soni thoroughly reviews medical history and medications at consultations to best advise patients.

What Precautions Are Needed for Laser Hair Removal While Taking Antibiotics?

If laser hair removal cannot be avoided while on antibiotics, Dr. Soni will take special precautions to maximize treatment safety:

  • Lower laser settings may be used to reduce risk of burns. This may require more treatments for optimal permanent hair reduction.
  • Smaller surface areas are treated per session to minimize risk.
  • Pre-treatment skin cooling systems will be used to protect the areas as much as possible.
  • Topical antibiotics may be prescribed after laser sessions to prevent infection in damaged skin.
  • Patients must diligently avoid sun exposure when taking antibiotics and for 4 weeks before and after treatment.
  • Higher SPF sunscreens of at least SPF 45 should be used.
  • Repeat treatments may be delayed longer than the typical 4-6 weeks for enhanced healing between sessions.
  • Medical grade hydroquinone can help prevent hyperpigmentation following treatments if needed.

Even with precautions, risks are still elevated in those taking photosensitizing medications. Patients must understand and consent to the higher likelihood of complications. In some cases, it may be advisable to postpone laser hair removal until finishing antibiotics.

What Oral Antibiotics Should Be Avoided Before Laser Hair Removal?

Dr. Soni recommends avoiding the following antibiotics for 1-2 months prior to starting laser hair removal when possible:

  • Tetracyclines like doxycycline and minocycline
  • Fluoroquinolones like ciprofloxacin
  • Sulfa drugs like Bactrim
  • Anti-malarials like quinine and quinolones
  • Certain macrolides like erythromycin which increase phototoxicity
  • Oral retinoids like isotretinoin (Accutane)
  • Photosensitizing antidepressants and antipsychotics

Interrupting antibiotic treatment for mild conditions like acne may be a reasonable strategy to allow for safe laser hair removal scheduling. But never stop prescribed antibiotics without consulting your prescribing physician first.

For severe infections or chronic conditions, waiting 1-2 months post-antibiotics for laser treatment is ideal. Discuss medication adjustments timing in advance with our staff.

How Can I Minimize Risks From Laser Hair Removal While Taking Antibiotics?

If laser hair removal cannot be avoided while taking photosensitizing medications, patients play a key role in minimizing risks. Be sure to:

  • Inform all providers of ALL medications, herbs, and supplements taken, not just antibiotics.
  • Avoid direct sunlight exposure, tanning beds, and sunburns. Wear at least SPF 30 daily.
  • Protect treatment areas diligently with sunscreen and clothing for 1 month pre and post laser sessions.
  • Keep laser treatment areas well-moisturized before and after to promote healing.
  • Avoid picking or scrubbing the skin after treatments.
  • Promptly report any concerning reaction, blistering, oozing or signs of infection to our office.
  • Return for follow-up at the recommended schedule to adjust settings if needed.

With proper care and precautions, laser hair removal can often be performed safely even on those taking medications that increase photosensitivity. But patients must understand and consent to elevated risks. The experts at Ethos Aesthetics & Wellness will advise you on minimizing risks for your specific health profile.

FAQs About Laser Hair Removal and Antibiotics

laser hair removal equipment

If you have questions about the safety, timing, and precautions for laser hair removal when taking potentially interacting medications like antibiotics, schedule a consultation with Ethos Aesthetics & Wellness today

We will perform a full health assessment and advise you on your best approach to achieving smooth, stubble-free skin.

Can I get laser hair removal while taking antibiotics?

Yes but inform your provider. Precautions will be taken and risks are higher for burns, rashes, and pigmentation issues.

How long should I be off antibiotics before laser hair removal?

Ideally 1-2 months for medications like doxycycline that increase photosensitivity. Discuss timing with your provider.

What antibiotics should be avoided before laser hair removal?

Tetracyclines, sulfa drugs, fluoroquinolones, anti-malarials, and some macrolides like erythromycin can increase photosensitivity reactions.

Is it safe to take antibiotics after laser hair removal?

Yes, topical or oral antibiotics may be given after to prevent infection in damaged skin. Let your provider know of any medications.

Can I take acne antibiotics while doing laser hair removal?

Discuss with your provider. Interrupting the antibiotics for 1-2 months is best. Lower laser settings and fewer treatments per round may be used.

What if I have to be on antibiotics long term?

Your laser technician will take extra precautions. But risks are higher for side effects like blistering and pigmentation issues.

What should I avoid while on antibiotics and getting laser hair removal?

Avoid sun exposure, tanning, and skin irritants. Use SPF 45 or higher and cover treatment areas. Follow all post-care instructions diligently.

Can I do laser if I’m taking antidepressants or steroids?

Certain antidepressants, steroids, diuretics, antihistamines and other meds also increase photosensitivity. Discuss all medications at consultation.

Will antibiotics affect my laser hair removal results?

Lower settings may be required which means more treatments. But permanent hair reduction can still be achieved over successive sessions.

How can I prevent laser hair removal side effects while on antibiotics?

Avoid sun, take antihistamines as prescribed, keep skin moisturized and protected from irritation. Promptly report any concerning reactions.

Dr. Hardik Soni

MD, Founder/Lead Physician

About Dr. Hardik Soni

Dr. Hardik Soni is the founder and Medical Director of Ethos Aesthetics + Wellness. His primary focus is on minimally invasive and non-invasive cosmetic procedures including botulinum injection (Botox and Dysport), dermal fillers (Juvederm, Restylane, Radiesse), laser hair removal, chemical peels, and laser skin rejuvenation. Dr. Soni believes in a more conservative approach and his first goal is education. Clients are able to determine the ideal treatments after discussion with Dr. Soni regarding the expected outcomes, cost, as well as risks.

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