Why Swelling and Itching is a Side Effect of Laser Hair Removal

Brian Lett
By Brian Lett
10 Min Read

Why swelling and itching is a side effect of laser hair removal

Laser hair removal uses heat energy to disintegrate pigmented follicles, causing some initial irritation during your session; this usually subsides within 24 hours after treatment has taken place.

Avoid sun exposure and any hair removal methods (waxing, plucking or otherwise) until all redness, bumps and itching have subsided.


Laser hair removal is a medical procedure that works by damaging hair follicles with laser energy. Exposing skin to such intense energy may produce side effects such as redness or itching; most individuals find relief quickly but if this persists longer-term steps may need to be taken at home to mitigate symptoms.

Itching, reddening or swelling are usually temporary side effects that will subside shortly after treatment is completed. Applying cold compresses or immersing yourself in a tub of cool water may help soothe skin symptoms while an anti-inflammatory cream might also provide some relief; those who are very sensitive may benefit from taking antihistamines such as Tylenol as this could also provide effective relief.


Laser hair removal involves pressing a handheld device against a targeted area of skin, which may feel like multiple stings, lasting anywhere from several minutes to over an hour depending on its size and location. You may detect smoke and burning hair during this procedure – something completely normal!

As soon as your laser treatment concludes, the targeted hair follicles will begin to shrink and fall out – an extremely healthy response; however, this could potentially result in new hair growth occurring quickly within your treatment area. To speed this process up and avoid hair growth in short term, exfoliate regularly to aid with shrinkage of follicles before lasering begins – or try exfoliating regularly as this can accelerate this process even faster!

After your treatment, it is best to avoid waxing, tweezing and plucking any unwanted hair in the treated area for several weeks following. As this area will likely be sensitive, this provides an opportunity to switch to more gentle forms of hair removal such as shaving.


Your skin is highly responsive to hair follicles that connect it, so when they become compromised by interference, the body reacts. This reaction is known as follicular edema and causes reddening, tenderness, swelling and may even cause itching if left unchecked for too long. Follicular edema is a normal response and can be managed using cooling creams such as Aloe Vera or 1% hydrocortisone creams.

Bumps are another side effect associated with laser hair removal treatments that is common. These bumps form when pores become clogged with dead skin cells and bacteria – similar to what acne does – leading to blockages within pores that clog them further, like when your body releases particles through acne breakouts. When encountering such bumps it’s best not to pop them as this could lead to infection – instead use a gentle cleanser on this area before applying a moisturizing cream for extra prevention.

Once treated areas clear up, alternative forms of hair removal such as waxing, plucking and shaving must be avoided in order to minimize further disruption of follicles that will eventually re-grow faster – not something we want after laser therapy has taken effect!

Skin pigmentation changes are another potential side effect of laser treatment that should not be underestimated, usually occurring among those who were tanned prior to receiving their laser treatments. If any changes occur after your procedure it’s vital that you inform your physician as soon as possible so they can advise accordingly.

After laser hair removal, sun exposure must also be restricted as prolonged sun exposure can result in hyperpigmentation or sunburn. Although laser probes are usually chilled prior to treatment to decrease their risk, wearing sunscreen daily is still highly recommended to protect yourself from UV rays that could be potentially dangerous.


Laser hair removal uses heat from a laser to destroy hair follicles that produce unwanted hair growth, providing a safe and effective means to eradicate excess hair on areas such as faces, armpits, legs, bikini area or back without shaving, plucking or using cream depilatories. Laser hair removal treatments typically are relatively painless, taking two to six treatments to be completed successfully. Some individuals may experience itching following laser hair removal treatments due to irritation of their skin; this should only last a few hours. For best results, apply a soothing moisturizer after laser hair removal treatments; avoid picking or scratching at irritated skin as this can make symptoms worse while speeding recovery time for the body.

Laser hair removal requires using a hand-held laser device against your skin, with its tip equipped with cooling pads or gel for comfort and pain reduction. Next, your doctor might shave off all visible hair in the area; apply topical anesthetic if necessary; activate the laser; you may experience sensations similar to warm pinpricks while light flashes rapidly for less than one second – these are all part of the experience!

Laser hair removal works because pigment in hair follicles attracts laser light and converts it to heat, with darker hair more readily absorbing the laser’s heat than lighter locks. As such, this form of treatment works equally well on men, women, trans women, and non-binary individuals with dark locks – as it gives permanent results better than waxing, shaving and tweezing alone. Furthermore, laser treatments may be used to eliminate ingrown hairs as well as reduce bumps left from previous hair growth.


Laser hair removal uses a beam of light to selectively target pigment and disable follicles responsible for hair growth, providing a safe and permanent solution for most skin types. Although safe, side effects like irritation or bumps in the treated area may occur; for more advice regarding your specific situation, contact the practitioner who administered your laser hair removal treatment.

Redness and itching are often part of the natural healing process after any type of skin trauma, while swelling around hair follicles is common and should go away within 24-48 hours. If you have sensitive skin, an ice pack can provide soothing relief that speeds recovery.

Once treatment has begun, you should try to limit exposure to sunlight or other sources of heat for at least 24 hours post-treatment. Wearing sunscreen with an SPF 30+ could also help protect against sun damage and itching; avoid shaving or plucking as this could disrupt hair follicles further and increase irritation post-treatment.

Some individuals who undergo laser hair removal may develop a reaction called urticaria or hives; Dr. Landa’s study showed that 36 people at Spanish beauty clinics developed such reactions within 6-24 hours after having laser treatment performed on them, usually on areas treated by laser.

Hives can be extremely itchy, often accompanied by other symptoms like burning, swelling and redness. If fever develops in conjunction with your hives symptoms it is wise to consult a physician immediately.

Before beginning treatment, it is essential to use a quality moisturizer in order to keep the skin hydrated and reduce itching. Also be wary of scratching as this can irritate the skin further and result in scars or ingrown hairs forming on it.

Exfoliation should also be avoided until your skin has fully recovered from laser hair removal, as this may clog pores and increase bumpiness and itching after laser treatment.

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