Psoriasis: hair removal and shaving
Psoriasis should not prevent you from shaving or depilating; you just need to choose the best method for your skin and the part of the body concerned.
Shaving (with either a manual or electric razor) is generally recommended for the arms and legs so that hairs are not pulled out. Permanent hair removal is ideal for skin folds, which are particularly delicate areas.
Men can shave their faces, but must take care not to disturb scale and to avoid cuts.
The sections below will give you practical information in order to shave properly.
Does psoriasis affect hair growth?
There have been no in-depth studies on hair growth in areas affected by lesions. However, areas of skin with plaques have less hair than healthy skin. This is probably because psoriatic plaques prevent normal hair growth.
Can I remove hair from my legs or arms when lesions are present?
You should always use a method of hair removal which does not cause irritation. It is best to avoid hot and cold waxing on lesions as pulling out hair could irritate the skin and lead to a Koebner phenomenon. You can gently shave your skin, with either a manual or electric razor. Tweezers and electric epilators which pull hairs out should not be used. You should also avoid disturbing scale. After removing hair, you should apply an emollient and/or a moisturiser. If the skin becomes irritated, you can use a corticosteroid. It should also be mentioned that the risk of bacterial infection is lower in people with psoriasis as bacteria cannot adhere to peeling skin.
Can I wax or use depilatory creams when I don't have a flare?
No scientific study has shown that waxing can either provoke a flare of psoriasis or exacerbate existing lesions, so you can wax during a lull. Depilatory creams may also be used. However, no matter how hair is removed, if a lesion later appears in that area, you should see a dermatologist as there is a risk of allergy for any product applied to the skin, whether you have psoriasis or not.
What about removing hair from the skin folds?
Lesions may appear in skin folds, such as the armpits and the groin. The skin in these areas is particularly vulnerable to irritation and infection, so removing hair from these areas can be tricky. People who feel they have too much hair in these areas can turn to permanent hair removal techniques, such as electrolysis or laser treatment. However, as electrolysis is only suitable for small areas of skin and seems to cause greater trauma than laser treatment, it is probably best to opt for the latter. In electrolysis, a doctor slides a probe into every follicle, causing localised damage which stops hair growing. This method can be tedious. As far as laser treatment is concerned, you should avoid exposure to the sun before treatment and apply an anti-redness cream after each session. The number of sessions required will depend on how thick your hair is in the area to be treated. Approximately six sessions will often be needed for the armpits or face.
Can shaving my face be problematic if I have lesions?
Although facial lesions are more common among children than adults, they do affect some men. Psoriatic lesions are known to be less common in areas of skin that are exposed to light, so it is better not to have a beard. You should also be careful not to disturb scale and an emollient cream may be used before shaving to soften scale. Either a manual or electric razor can be used, but in both cases, you should avoid repeatedly passing it over lesions. It is also important to use alcohol-free shaving products and to moisturise the skin afterwards. Some brands have ranges of shaving products for sensitive skin.
- It is better to shave the hair from arms and legs where lesions are present, rather than removing the hair with a method that involves pulling out the hairs.
- Hair should be removed carefully from skin folds as these areas are particularly subject to irritation and infection. Permanent hair removal techniques are suitable for these areas.
- It is important to be careful when shaving to avoid disturbing the scale and nicking the skin. Preferably, alcohol-free products should be used.