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Why Do I Get Pimples After Laser Hair Removal?

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Dr. Hardik Soni

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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. 

Dr. Soni and Ethos Aesthetics & Wellness aim to provide valuable insights into understanding and managing these post-laser hair removal skin issues.

Why do patients get pimples after a laser hair removal procedure? 

You get pimples after laser hair removal because 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. 

Can Laser Hair Removal Cause Acne or Pimples?

laser hair removal procedure performed by aesthetician

Laser hair removal can cause temporary acne or pimples due to skin irritation and inflammation. 

At Ethos Aesthetics & Wellness, under the expert guidance of Dr. Soni, we understand the concerns surrounding these post-treatment issues and are committed to providing insights and solutions to help you achieve the best possible results from your laser hair removal experience.

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.

According to Dr. Soni, 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 does laser hair removal affect hair follicles?

The laser targets the hair follicles, impairing their ability to support human hair growth, which is different from shaving or waxing.

What are the signs and symptoms of skin irritation post-laser hair removal? 

Signs include redness, edema, and sometimes acne or pimples, which are usually temporary.

How Often Do Pimples Appear After Laser Hair Removal?

The occurrence of pimples after laser hair removal is relatively common and is generally not a cause for alarm. However, the frequency can vary depending on several factors such as skin type, the area being treated, and the expertise of the practitioner.

General Observations

From time to time, individuals may experience a bothersome and raised skin rash after undergoing laser hair removal. 

Typically, this occurs due to irritation of the hair follicles in the treated region. Fortunately, this issue can be effectively addressed with the application of a gentle cortisone product.

What Dr. Soni from Ethos Aesthetics & Wellness Recommends

After undergoing laser hair removal, it’s possible to experience localized irritation and inflammation. These skin issues can resemble milia or whiteheads and are often a result of dead skin cells and oil blocking the hair follicles. 

Dr. Soni recommends consulting your healthcare provider to rule out any signs of infection. To alleviate these concerns, you might consider using a gentle exfoliating cleanser such as Neutrogena’s acne wash, which contains salicylic acid. This could potentially help improve the situation.

How To Prevent Post-Laser Hair Treatment Breakouts

Preventing pimples after laser hair removal involves proper skin care and aftercare. Here are three key strategies Dr. Soni recommends:

Keep the Treatment Area Clean

After your laser session, cleanse the skin to remove any lingering bacteria or residue. Use a gentle astringent like witch hazel to reduce redness and inflammation. 

Tea tree oil is another good option. Avoid heavy creams, oils, and scented cosmetics immediately after the treatment to let your skin breathe and prevent clogged pores.

Avoid Heat and Sweat

Your skin is sensitive post-treatment, making heat your enemy. Steer clear of sun exposure and activities that raise your body temperature and induce sweating. This includes strenuous workouts, hot baths, and saunas. 

Sweat can harbor bacteria, leading to infection or pimples. If you must exercise, opt for light walking and avoid swimming in natural or chlorinated water for 2-3 days.

Be Gentle with Your Skin

Dr. Soni recommends against picking or scratching any emerging pimples to prevent scarring. Use a gentle exfoliant in the days following the treatment to avoid ingrown hairs and clogged pores. For swelling or redness, apply ice wrapped in a clean towel. 

Your dermatologist may recommend cooling creams or hydrocortisone for irritation. Aloe vera-based products can also help keep your skin cool and less red.

What to Do If You Get Pimples

dermatologist checks the patient's face

Immediate Steps to Take

If you notice pimples appearing after your laser hair removal treatment, the first step is not to panic.

Here’s what Dr. Soni suggests:

  1. Wash the affected area gently with a mild, non-abrasive cleanser and pat it dry. 
  2. Apply a topical antibiotic ointment as prescribed by us or your healthcare provider.

Long-term Skincare Routine

For long-term care, continue to keep the skin clean and moisturized. Use a gentle cleanser and a hydrating, non-comedogenic moisturizer. 

Avoid using harsh skincare products that contain alcohol or other irritants. If the condition persists for more than a week, consult your healthcare provider for further guidance.

When to Consult a Doctor

If the pimples persist, become painful, or show signs of infection such as pus or increased redness, it’s crucial to consult a healthcare provider. 

They may prescribe medication or other treatments to manage the condition effectively.

What Not to Do When You Get Pimples After Laser Hair Removal

Why You Shouldn’t Pop the Pimples

Dr. Soni advises against popping the pimples, as this can lead to further complications like infections, scarring, or hyperpigmentation. Popping pimples can also prolong the healing process and detract from the overall results of your laser hair removal treatment.

Skincare Products to Avoid

Avoid using skincare products that contain harsh chemicals, alcohol, or fragrances, as these can further irritate the skin. Also, refrain from exfoliating the treated area for at least a week post-treatment to allow the skin to heal naturally.


Pimples after laser hair removal are a common but generally manageable side effect. Understanding the causes and knowing how to deal with them can make your journey to smooth, hair-free skin much more comfortable. 

For expert guidance and personalized advice, schedule a consultation with Ethos Aesthetics and Wellness.

Experience Gentle Laser Hair Removal at Ethos Aesthetics & Wellness

facial laser hair removal at Ethos Spa

At Ethos Aesthetics & Wellness, 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. 

FAQs About Why Do You Get Pimples After Laser Hair Removal

How can I prevent acne after laser hair removal?

Proper skin care is crucial. Use a gentle cleanser and topical medication like salicylic acid to manage bacteria and inflammation.

What topical medications are recommended post-treatment?

Antibiotics and salicylic acid are commonly recommended to manage bacteria and assist in cosmetology exfoliation.

Can I use a moisturizer after laser hair removal?

Yes, but opt for a light, non-comedogenic moisturizer to prevent clogging pores and increasing the risk of acne.

What skincare products should I avoid?

Avoid heavy oils and cosmetics that can clog pores, as well as acid-based products that can irritate the skin.

Is scarring a risk with laser hair removal?

Scarring is a rare but possible risk, especially if post-treatment signs like inflammation aren’t managed well.

How does heat affect the skin post-laser treatment?

Heat can exacerbate skin irritation and should be avoided to minimize risks.

Can I exercise after laser hair removal?

Avoid strenuous exercise that causes perspiration, as sweat glands can contribute to irritation and potential infection.

What about water-based activities like swimming?

Avoid swimming in water bodies or chlorinated pools for 2-3 days post-treatment to minimize the risk of infection.

How does aloe vera help in post-laser skin care?

Aloe vera is excellent for cooling the skin and reducing irritation, making it a recommended part of post-laser skin care.

Should I use sunscreen after laser hair removal?

Yes, using sunscreen is crucial to protect the sensitive skin from further irritation and potential scarring.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before undergoing laser hair removal?

Discuss your skin type, any existing skin conditions, and your general health care to determine if laser hair removal is suitable for you.

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

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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