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Épilation et kératose pilaire

Is hair removal recommended in the context of keratosis pilaris?

Keratosis pilaris is a skin condition often deemed unattractive. It develops on various parts of the body but primarily targets the arms and legs, areas prone to hair removal. How should one shave when they have keratosis pilaris? Is shaving really not recommended? Learn more about this issue in this article.

Summary
Published March 11, 2024, by Pauline, Head of Scientific Communication — 6 min read

Some details about keratosis pilaris.

A non-contagious and benign skin condition, keratosis pilaris is characterised by rough bumps that give the skin an appearance similar to gooseflesh. It primarily manifests during childhood and adolescence and often disappears on its own in adulthood. Although not harmful, it can be a source of stress: it's good to know that treatments are available. Occasionally, it is accompanied by itching, although this symptom is relatively rare. Individuals with keratosis pilaris generally notice an improvement in their skin texture during the summer, but this improvement is only temporary.

Keratosis pilaris arises from an excess production of keratin and its accumulation in the hair follicles. These then become blocked, resulting in thickened skin and the appearance of bumps. It is interesting to note that this skin condition is most often hereditary and is transmitted in an autosomal dominant manner. The faulty allele causing the condition is located on a non-sex chromosome and the mutation only needs to affect a single copy of the gene to express itself. Scientists have also noticed a frequent association between keratosis pilaris and other skin diseases such as eczema and ichthyosis, although this link is not yet fully explained.

How to remove hair when you have keratosis pilaris?

The signs of keratosis pilaris most commonly appear on the arms and legs, areas of the body that are typically depilated. Today, there are various ways to remove hair but not all are recommended when aiming to combat keratosis pilaris.

  • Shaving and keratosis pilaris.

    It is generally recommended toavoid shaving when dealing with keratosis pilaris. Indeed, this technique tends to be irritating for the skin and can lead to redness and irritation. This slight inflammation can then exacerbate keratosis pilaris and cause the appearance of new bumps.

  • Electrolysis and keratosis pilaris.

    Electrolysis hair removal is a practical hair removal technique that allows for longer intervals between sessions, as the hair bulb is directly plucked, which extends the regrowth period. However, electrolysis hair removal can lead to the formation of ingrown hairs, a contributing factor to keratosis pilaris. The hair, plucked from its root in the opposite direction of its growth, tends to deviate from its natural path and grow under the skin. If it fails to penetrate the epidermis and continues to grow in this manner, it causes inflammation and small red bumps, similar to those characteristic of keratosis pilaris.

  • The wax and keratosis pilaris.

    Wax, which can be used either cold or hot, is a hair removal technique similar to electric hair removal. The principle is the same: to pluck the hair directly from the bulb. Waxing has advantages and disadvantages similar to electric hair removal: hair grows back more slowly but can become trapped under the epidermis and turn into ingrown hairs. This technique is thus generally not recommended for individuals prone to keratosis pilaris.

  • The depilatory cream and keratosis pilaris.

    A quick and painless alternative, hair removal cream is one of the preferred methods of hair removal for people with sensitive skin. It is also recommended in cases of keratosis pilaris as it does not damage the hair follicle and is very gentle. A hair removal cream is composed of chemical agents such as thioglycolic acid which destroy the keratin present in the hair. This allows the hairs to soften and fall out after a few minutes. The only downside of hair removal cream: hair regrowth is quite fast and usually occurs within five to seven days.

  • The laser and keratosis pilaris.

    Laser hair removal is another method recommended for treating keratosis pilaris. The light emitted by the laser is absorbed by the melanin in the hair before being transferred to the hair follicles, causing their apoptosis. By destroying the follicles, the laser prevents the occurrence of ingrown hairs, which is ideal when prone to keratosis pilaris. Moreover, contrary to what is sometimes thought, laser hair removal is suitable for all skin phototypes, provided that the hairs are dark enough, meaning they contain enough melanin. As for the phototype, it is up to the professional to identify it in order to determine which type of laser will be most suitable. Laser hair removal is generally a permanent hair removal method after a few sessions.

  • Tip : After each hair removal, we advise you to hydrate your skin. Indeed, shaving, waxing or even electric hair removal are techniques that weaken the hydrolipidic film and the skin barrier. It is therefore important to restore it by providing it with humectants such as glycerine or aloe vera and lipid-replenishing agents such as vegetable oils and ceramides.

Sources

  • SCHWARTZ R. A. & co. Keratosis Pilaris: A Common Follicular Hyperkeratosis. Paediatric Dermatology (2008).

  • KHOPKAR U. S. & THOMAS M. Revisiting Keratosis Pilaris: Is It More Than Just a Follicular Keratosis? International Journal of Trichology (2012).

  • WANG J. F. & ORLOW S. J. Keratosis Pilaris and its Subtypes: Associations, New Molecular and Pharmacologic Causes, and Treatment Options. American Journal of Clinical Dermatology (2018).

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