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Laser Hair Removal and Medications: What You Need to Know

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Do medications affect the effectiveness of laser hair removal?

Medications generally do not have a direct positive effect on the outcome of laser hair removal treatments.

The effectiveness of laser hair removal primarily depends on factors such as the type of laser used, the characteristics of your hair (color, thickness), and your skin type.

There are no specific medications that have been found to positively affect laser hair removal. 

However, some medications may indirectly contribute to the success of the treatment by addressing underlying conditions that can affect hair growth. 

For example, certain medications used to treat hormonal imbalances or conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) may help improve the effectiveness of laser hair removal by reducing the rate of hair regrowth

Key takeaways

  • Medications generally do not have a direct positive effect on the outcome of laser hair removal treatments.
  • Certain medications may indirectly contribute to the success of the treatment by addressing underlying conditions that can affect hair growth.
  • Different medications, such as topical anesthetics, cooling gels, anti-inflammatory creams, moisturizers, and sunscreens, are used in laser hair removal to optimize the treatment process and enhance patient comfort.
  • Medications such as topical corticosteroids, NSAIDs, and antibiotic ointments can be used to reduce post-laser hair removal inflammation and redness.
  • Natural remedies such as aloe vera gel, cucumber slices, and cool compresses can also be used to soothe post-laser hair removal inflammation.
  • It is important to avoid photosensitive drugs such as acne medications, anticancer drugs, antidepressants, antihistamines, antihypertensives, antimicrobials, and cardiovascular medications before laser hair removal.
  •  Individuals should consult with their healthcare provider before making any changes to their medication regimen or undergoing laser hair removal.

Different medications and their roles during laser hair removal

In laser hair removal procedures, various medications are used to optimize the treatment process and enhance patient comfort. 

These medications serve specific purposes and play crucial roles in the effectiveness and overall outcome of the procedure. Here are some medications commonly used in laser hair removal:

1. Topical Anesthetics:

a woman trying to take the lidocaine and apply

Topical anesthetics are applied to the treatment area prior to the laser session to minimize discomfort and pain during the procedure. These anesthetics work by numbing the skin’s surface, making the laser treatment more tolerable for patients. Lidocaine and prilocaine are commonly used topical anesthetics in laser hair removal.

2. Cooling Gels:

Applying cooling gel on the hand

To protect the skin and reduce the chances of thermal injury during laser treatment, cooling gels are often applied. These gels provide a cooling effect on the skin’s surface, helping to mitigate any potential discomfort or adverse reactions from the laser energy. The cooling gels also help to ensure the laser’s focus remains on the hair follicles, maximizing treatment efficacy.

3. Anti-Inflammatory Creams:

Anti-inflammatory gel

After the laser hair removal session, some patients may experience post-treatment redness, inflammation, or skin irritation. To alleviate these side effects and promote skin healing, anti-inflammatory creams may be recommended. These creams typically contain ingredients such as hydrocortisone, which helps reduce inflammation and soothe the treated area.

4. Moisturizers and Sunscreens:

Moisturizers and sunscreens are commonly recommended as part of the post-treatment care for laser hair removal.

They help nurture and protect the skin, keeping it hydrated and shielding it from harmful UV rays. Moisturizers aid in the healing process, while sunscreens prevent hyperpigmentation and other skin damage caused by sun exposure post-treatment.

It’s important for medical professionals to have a good understanding of the medications used in laser hair removal, their purposes, and potential interactions with patients’ current medications.

This knowledge allows healthcare providers to develop personalized treatment plans and address any potential concerns or complications in a safe and effective manner.

Can medications help with post-laser hair removal inflammation or redness

Yes, medications can help with reducing post-laser hair removal inflammation or redness. Fortunately, there are several medications and remedies that can be used to alleviate these symptoms and promote healing.

One commonly recommended medication for reducing post-laser hair removal inflammation is a topical corticosteroid cream or ointment. 

Corticosteroids work by reducing inflammation and suppressing the immune response in the skin. 

Applying a thin layer of corticosteroid cream to the affected area can help to minimize redness, swelling, and discomfort. 

It is important to note that corticosteroids should be used as directed by a healthcare professional, and long-term or excessive use should be avoided to prevent potential side effects.

Another helpful medication for reducing post-treatment inflammation and redness is over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen.

These medications inhibit the production of prostaglandins, which are responsible for causing inflammation in the body.

Taking an NSAID according to the recommended dosage can help to alleviate discomfort and reduce redness in the treated area.

Natural remedies

Apart from medications, there are also natural remedies that can be used to soothe post-laser hair removal inflammation. 

Aloe vera gel, for example, has soothing and anti-inflammatory properties that can help calm the skin and reduce redness. 

someone pressing aloe vera gel to come out

Applying aloe vera gel to the treated area can provide a cooling sensation and promote healing. Cucumber slices or cool compresses can also be applied to the skin to reduce inflammation and provide relief.


In some cases, the treating clinician may recommend the use of antibiotic ointments or creams if there is a risk of infection in the treated area. These medications help prevent or treat any bacterial infections that may occur as a result of the laser hair removal procedure. It is important to follow the healthcare professional’s instructions regarding the use of antibiotic medications to ensure proper healing and prevent any potential complications.

It is worth noting that everyone’s reaction to laser hair removal varies, and some individuals may experience more significant post-treatment inflammation or redness than others. 

If the symptoms persist or worsen, it is important to seek advice from a healthcare professional who can evaluate the situation and provide appropriate treatment recommendations.

Photosensitive drugs to avoid before laser hair removal

If you’re considering getting laser hair removal, it’s important to be aware of the medications that can increase your sensitivity to light and potentially interfere with the effectiveness or safety of the treatment.

Acne medications are one category of drugs that should be avoided before undergoing laser hair removal. Some acne medications, such as isotretinoin (Accutane), can make your skin more sensitive to light and increase the risk of burns or other complications during the procedure.


Anticancer drugs are another group of medications that may interact negatively with laser hair removal. Many anticancer drugs work by targeting rapidly dividing cells, including those responsible for hair growth. Combining these drugs with laser hair removal could potentially disrupt their efficacy or cause unwanted side effects.


Certain antidepressants and antiepileptic drugs have also been linked to photosensitivity. These medications may affect how your body reacts to light and could increase your risk of experiencing burns or other adverse reactions during laser hair removal treatments.


Antihistamines are commonly used to relieve allergy symptoms, but they too can lead to increased sensitivity to light. It’s important to avoid taking antihistamines before undergoing laser hair removal in order to minimize potential complications.


If you’re currently on antihypertensive medication, such as beta-blockers or ACE inhibitors, be sure to discuss this with your healthcare provider before scheduling a laser hair removal treatment. These types of medication can also cause photosensitivity and should be discontinued prior to the procedure if possible.


Antimicrobials and antiparasitic drugs may also increase sensitivity towards light due their mechanism of action in inhibiting microbial growth within the body

Cardiovascular medication

In addition, certain cardiovascular medications, diuretics (water pills), hypoglycemics (medications used for diabetes), NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), and other substances have been found to cause photosensitivity. 

To ensure the safety and effectiveness of your laser hair removal treatments, it’s crucial to provide your healthcare provider with a comprehensive list of all the medications you’re currently taking or have recently taken. This includes prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs, herbal supplements, and even recreational substances.

Your healthcare provider will be able to assess whether any of these medications pose a risk in combination with laser hair removal. They may recommend temporarily discontinuing certain drugs before undergoing the procedure, or they may suggest alternative hair removal methods that are more suitable for individuals on these medications.

It’s important to note that while avoiding photosensitizing medications is crucial for minimizing risks during laser hair removal treatments, not all individuals will experience adverse reactions even if they are on such medication.

Always consult with your healthcare provider before making any changes to your medication regimen or undergoing any cosmetic procedures like laser hair removal. They will be able to provide you with personalized guidance based on your specific medical history and circumstances.

How long do I need to stop taking certain medications before laser hair removal?

For photosensitive drugs, there are some that you need to stay off for at least 6 months, and for some, it can be 2 weeks.

Individuals who are taking Accutane should stop the medication at least six months before undergoing laser hair removal.

Individuals should avoid using glycolic acid and other chemical peels or exfoliants for at least two weeks before and after laser hair removal.

Elisha Paul

This website belongs to Elisha Paul, a well-known expert in the field of hair removal, with a specialization in waxing and laser hair removal. With over five years of practice, Elisha Paul has gained immense knowledge and proficiency in offering fruitful and quick hair removal solutions.