Q: Hello Dr, how are you doing, thanks for all the educative advice. Please I want to know if HAIR REMOVAL CREAM is advisable for removing hair on my chest.?
A: Hair removal cream also known as depilatory creams contain chemicals like thioglycolic acid (responsible for that strong and pungent odour associated with these creams) that break down the protein (Keratin) in hair. This leads to weakening and dissolution of the hair making it easy to be scraped away from the skin’s surface.
This product is usually used with great caution as keratin is also found in the top layer of the skin and if the cream is left on for too long, the chemical in it starts working on the skin leading to chemical burns and blisters. So be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions, strictly and test the cream on a small patch of skin on the arm or leg before using it on a large area. If you have any sort of reaction like blisters, burning, redness etc, wipe off immediately and do not use that same brand again. If you’re still up for it, you could try a different brand.
Depilatory creams are generally safe to use on the chest (though they were originally developed for the arm and legs). There are special products for people who have sensitive skin too.
Please do not use depilatory creams on the following areas:
- Groin – use only around the bikini line. How? Wear a pair of old panties and then apply the cream on the hair that is exposed. Do not apply on the area covered by the panties
- Around the anus or nipples
- Eyebrows or around the eye area
- Nose – not for nose hair
- Ear – not ideal for ear hair
Avoid using this cream:
- If you have broken or irritated skin
- If you have a sunburn
- If you have had any other form of hair removal within 24 hours
- If you are undergoing medical treatment for skin conditions, diabetes or circulatory disorders. In these cases, speak with your doctor first
- If you are allergic to any of the components of the cream
Where in doubt, always speak with your doctor!
To round off this discourse, here are some tips for avoiding razor bumps after hair removal:
Razor bumps are also known as ingrown hairs. Ingrown hairs occur when hair curls back and brow back into the skin. This is particularly easy with hair that had been cut (as in shaving) as the hair that grows back usually has a sharp edge and finds it easy to ‘pierce’ into the skin.
For under arm bumps, a solution to this is to stop shaving and leave the hair well alone 😀 Another option is to use depilatory cream. This may, however, cause irritation and so should not be used more than once or twice a week.
Try to resist the urge to press these bumps but if the temptation proves too great, use a sterile needle to tease out the hair, if it appears to lie close to the surface. If it appears deep, please leave well alone…let’s not give you scars you’d rather not have 😀
Preventive measures you can practice include:
• Using a single blade shave stick
• Wet the area to be shaved with warm water and use a shave gel
• Try not to shave too close…you know how you like to pull the skin taut to achieve a better shave? Well, stop doing that as this encourages hair to curl back into the skin
• Shave in the direction of growth of the hair.
If infections occur, the bumps become filled with pus and you may be prescribed antibiotics for this. Your doctor may also prescribe some drugs to help calm down the inflammation.
For razor bumps in the groin….
In Africans, the hair in the groin area is very curly and so it is pretty easy for the hair to curl and grow down instead of growing up and out. These lead to red, raised spots/bumps which could get infected and become pus-filled.
More often than not, an ingrown hair does not require special treatment. They just leave quietly on their own…much like how they came. This of course, presupposes that there is no shaving done during this period to aggravate the situation. In the meantime, do not squeeze the bumps as this may push the bacteria further inside. You could use a soft bristled brush to loosen the hair before shaving or use a sterile needle or tweezers to tease out the ingrown hair(s) if it lies close to the surface.
How to prevent ingrown hairs? Simple! Stop shaving…at least for a while. That’s always an option. There’s always a huge debate about whether things should be kept natural down there! 😀 However, if you choose to shave, try using a scissors to trim, before using a single blade shave stick to shave. Make the hair as wet as possible using shave foam and then shave in the direction of the growth of the hair. And while you may think it’s fun to be completely clean shaven there, try not to shave too close to the skin and rinse the shaver after each stroke:D Pat the area gently afterwards…don’t rub vigorously. Remember that re-using razors you have used on the infected parts may lead to further re-infection with bacteria that are on the surface of the razor.
Your doctor will make a definitive diagnosis. He/she may prescribe some anti-biotic ointment or oral antibiotics (taken by mouth) and some other ointments to stop the inflammation. Remember that antibiotics should be taken for the full period prescribed by the doctor and not stopped as soon as you feel better.
Have a fun-filled weekend 😀