Therapeutics in Dermatology
A reference textbook in dermatology
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24 September 2014, by DE RAMECOURT A.

Epilation is currently one of the most common skin care procedures. While the removal of facial hair is a very ancient practice, removal of hair from the rest of the body has become more widespread over the past years partially due to fashion and partially due to technological progress.

The numerous procedures available have different long-term effects, either increasing or decreasing hair growth or making hair finer or thicker temporarily or definitively.

At birth, each individual has a certain amount of hair follicles. Hair growth is determined by activation of the follicles as a function of genetic predisposition and not by the number of follicles: a large number of follicles remain dormant while others develop under the effect of testicular, ovarian or adrenal androgens. They may also be stimulated by certain drugs or by inappropriate mechanical procedures. Vellus hair may thus change to terminal hair but the regression of terminal hair to vellus hair is rarely spontaneous. The degree of genetic susceptibility of hair follicles to different stimuli varies greatly from one individual to another which explains the different clinical changes that can be observed.

Assessment of the various epilation techniques is difficult for several reasons. Hair growth changes with age: it develops at puberty and then in women decreases on the body but increases on the face while in men it decreases on the head and increases on the back. Like hair, seasonal fluctuations may be seen in body hair with slight increases being observed with the increase in light or heat in the spring. Body hair growth is cyclical which means that long studies generally covering at least one cycle are required. Finally, the results obtained are variable depending on the areas treated.

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