Why Do I Get Pimples After Laser Hair Removal?

Hair removal by waxing, plucking, or threading can cause breakouts as the skin becomes irritated when the hair is pulled out. Laser hair removal is thought to be a less invasive form of hair removal -- but patients experience acne breakouts and pimples after treatment anyways. 

So why do patients get pimples after a laser hair removal procedure? The heat of the laser machine opens up the pores of your skin, allowing debris to clog and create tiny infections which turn into pimples. In some cases, red bumps develop as an inflammatory response to the procedure itself. Sometimes, patients who made a mistake with their aftercare develop this reaction as well. 

Why Acne and Pimples Appear After Laser Hair Removal 

After your laser hair removal session, acne and pimples may appear on treatment areas including your upper lip, legs, armpits, or bikini line. This post-treatment breakout is a side effect of your pores opening up due to the heat of the device and getting clogged with dead skin cells, dirt, and bacteria. As your body tries to get these particles out, it creates a pus-filled bubble as a response. 

Another acne-like side effect is called edema, which is swelling caused by excess fluids trapped in the skin’s tissues. Redness and inflammation are common side effects after laser hair removal and are not permanent so they aren’t a cause for too much worry. 

How To Prevent Post-Laser Hair Treatment Breakouts

Preventing post-laser treatment pimple breakouts requires proper aftercare and good skincare habits. Here are three ways to manage your skin after undergoing laser hair removal procedure: 

Keep the treatment area clean. 

Once you’re done with your laser session, it’s important to cleanse the skin to remove any residue or bacteria that may have been left behind on the surface. You can apply an astringent such as witch hazel to calm down the redness and inflammation. Other anti-inflammatory and antiseptic ingredients like tea tree oil may also help. 

As much as possible, don’t apply any heavy creams or oils to the treatment area immediately after the procedure as these can clog up your pores. Avoid applying make-up, deodorant, lotion, cosmetic, or any other scented cosmetics as well so your skin can breathe as it heals. With the pathways to your pores open, it would be much easier for them to clear out any debris and prevent an acne breakout. 

Don’t sweat it out just yet. 

Heat is going to be your enemy after a laser hair treatment as your skin is very sensitive and prone to damage. Sun exposure is definitely a no-no. Anything that increases your body temperature will cause you to sweat, which creates a breeding ground for bacteria that may lead to infection or ingrown hairs. Sweaty and strenuous workouts will also open your pores up to sweat, oils, and bacteria that creates pimples as well. 

For a similar reason, you should also avoid saunas, hot baths, hot showers, and steam baths. If you really want to exercise, light walking is the best choice. You should also avoid swimming in the sea, lakes, rivers, jacuzzis, and swimming pools with strongly chlorinated water for at least 2 - 3 days after treatment. Bodies of water would have bacteria, chemicals, and algae you wouldn’t want entering your skin. 

Be gentle with your skin. 

As much as possible, do not pick, pop, rub, or scratch any emerging acne spots to avoid scarring or another adverse effect. In the days following laser hair removal, exfoliate the treatment area with a gentle exfoliant or scrub to prevent ingrown hairs and clogged pores. If swelling and redness occur, you may apply ice. Be sure to keep the ice inside a clean towel before patting on your skin. 

Depending on your needs, your dermatologist may prescribe cooling creams, ointments, or topical steroids for any skin irritation. A thin layer of hydrocortisone cream is also good for managing itchy bumps and preventing breakouts or edemas from forming. A product with aloe vera in it would also keep your skin cool and moisturized so you wouldn’t be as red either. 

Preparing For Your Next Laser Hair Session

In order to keep your skin in top condition after any laser hair removal procedure, you will need to exert effort in taking care of it before each session. Prepare for a laser treatment by doing the following: 

During consultationWhen you consult with the medical practitioner who will perform the procedure, it’s important you disclose any medications you take and the medical conditions you have, especially skin-related ones. 
Six months before treatment UV and sun exposure should be avoided to avoid skin damage. Stay in the shade, skip tanning beds or spray tans, and protect your skin with sunscreen. Avoid other hair removals like threading, waxing, or electrolysis to prevent follicle disruption. 
Week before treatmentSkip chemical peels, strong skincare products, and other procedures. Shaving the treatment area the night before is also encouraged to avoid surface burns. Exfoliate and cleanse your skin as well to keep bacteria from entering your pores during the process. 

Experience Gentle Laser Hair Removal at Ethos Spa 

At Ethos Spa, we prioritize giving our patients a safe and comfortable laser hair removal experience with a high-quality laser device and board certified staff. Contact us today so we can better inform you about this process. 

Learn more: Why Is My Hair Not Falling Out After Laser?

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