Valerie Monroe
Photo: Jonathan Skow
Q: Every time I get an upper lip wax, I break out for about two weeks. I've tried different kinds of wax, but nothing works. Any ideas?

A: If you wax once a month or even every two and you break out for two weeks afterward, that's a lot of time feeling unattractive. It sounds like you have either an irritant dermatitis or an allergic contact dermatitis, says Paradi Mirmirani, MD, a dermatologist for Kaiser Permanente in Vallejo, California. The former starts almost immediately after exposure and typically doesn't last more than 24 to 48 hours. The latter starts 24 to 48 hours after the exposure and may continue for several days. You may have a combination. An ice pack on your lip after the waxing might be helpful, as well as an over-the-counter hydrocortisone ointment used twice a day. You may want to consider a different solution, such as a cream depilatory; be sure to test it on a small area of your inner arm before you use it on your lip. The prescription cream Vaniqa reduces hair growth by interfering with an enzyme in the follicle; you'll still have to wax, but less often. Or you could see a dermatologist to determine whether laser treatments, which can significantly reduce facial hair, would work for you.

Bottom line: If the irritation isn't reduced by ice or a hydrocortisone cream, try another defuzzing treatment.


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