A Topical Anesthetic May Increase Your Comfort During Permanent Hair Removal

November 13th, 2015
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Topical Anesthetic for Electrolysis Hair-RemovalTopical anesthetics

If you have unwanted hair, you know that hair removal can be painful, regardless of the method you choose. Fortunately, electrolysis hair removal, unlike those other methods, is permanent - so there is an end in sight! Electrolysis might also feel uncomfortable, but there are ways to reduce the discomfort.

There are all sorts of tricks to manage pain, but if you want something more straightforward, you and/or your electrologist can use topical anesthetic creams, gels, or sprays, to help your treatments be as comfortable and pain-free as possible. Regulations for the strength of topical anesthetics and whether your electrologist can directly provide them vary from state to state, so ask your electrologist what they recommend.

What are topical anesthetics and how exactly do they help?

Most of these creams, gels, and sprays contain a medicine called lidocaine, which is a common numbing agent. Usually, the amount of lidocaine will be 4 to 5 percent. The topical anesthetic is applied directly to the skin. Once the lidocaine has numbed the area, it is then wiped off for the electrolysis treatment. Many clients who use lidocaine anesthetics describe feeling much less pain and discomfort during electrolysis.

While many creams, gels, and sprays with lidocaine are available over the counter, some are only available by prescription. These may be higher strength or combine a mixture of lidocaine and other numbing agents, such as prilocaine, benzocaine, or tetracaine. Different numbing agents can last for different lengths of time, so the numbing effect lasts longer and/or takes effect more quickly than with lidocaine alone. Again, regulations for these products vary by state, so ask your electrologist what they recommend and where you can get it.


Electrologists sometimes also recommend occlusion, which just means placing an airtight plastic dressing, such as a cling wrap, over the topical anesthetic and your skin. This keeps the anesthetic closer to your skin, which makes absorption more efficient and enhances the numbing effects. It helps to make sure there are no wrinkles or creases in the occlusion, and to use transparent plastic dressings, to ensure the cream, gel, or spray stays in the desired area.

Everyone's body chemistry is different, so topical anesthetics can work differently from person to person. Still, many clients report significantly less pain with use of these products, so if you are finding your permanent hair removal treatments uncomfortable, a topical anesthetic might be worth a try. Ask your electrologist if they think you might benefit from use of a topical anesthetic.

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