Is Laser Hair Removal Safe?

Yes. Laser hair removal is a common and effective way to permanently remove hair. It is safe, but remember these tips:

  1. Hair removal lasers target the pigment in hair (that’s how they work). Hair lasers can damage darker or pigmented skin as the laser will target both the hair and the skin, burning it. This can lead to permanent skin discoloration.
  2. Tanned skin is dark skin, and laser hair removal should never be done on people with a tan.
  3. Laser hair treatments hurt. Some people find it too painful, while others don’t mind it. Numbing creams can lessen the sting; however, they can only be used in small amounts. Large quantities of numbing cream can be toxic and has led to death in extreme circumstances.
  4. The light from the laser can be damaging to your eyes. Be sure you’re wearing approved safety glasses at all times.
  5. Laser hair removal can be additive – once you’ve treated one area, you might want to treat lots of other “hairy spots” which can be harmful to your wallet.
Photo: Sean Drellinger, Flickr

Baby Skin Needs Extra Sun Protection

Baby skin is especially vulnerable to sun damage. Here are five tips to keep your baby safe this summer.

Baby skin is sun-sensitive

Everyone wishes they had baby skin. It feels so soft and smooth; it’s perfectly adapted to induce us adults to want to clean their diaper, no matter how many times they dirty them. Like their big eyes and cute noses, baby skin it part of the whole package of being adorable. But like their eyes, their skin, however beautiful, is immature. Baby skin is thinner, has less natural moisturizers and has fewer pigment cells, making it more vulnerable to the environment than adult skin.

This is important especially in summer. How often do you see babies running around on the beach with just a diaper on? Although they seem indestructable, they are more vulnerable than the adult holding the pail and shovel.

Studies have shown that up to 83% of babies get sunburned their first year of life. This is our fault, not theirs. Sunburns at an early age can increase the risk for melanoma skin cancer on the trunk later in life. Sun exposure is also a poor way to get vitamin D for infants because most will get far more damaging sun than they need to make vitamin D — we adults tend to over cook them.

Here are five tips to keep your baby safe this summer:

1. Newborns up to 6 months should be kept out of the sun. Cover them up with light clothing and hats, and put the top down on the stroller.

2. Babies 6 months and older should not be exposed to the sun between 10am and 2pm. When they are outdoors, they should have sunscreen on all exposed skin. Because their immature skin can absorb chemicals more easily, choose sunscreens with zinc and titanium with an SPF of 30 or more. Chemical or spray sunscreens can burn their eyes which will be sure to make for a cranky baby at the beach.

3. Be sure to apply the sunscreen near their hairline, on their ears and at the edges of clothing — areas often missed by well meaning moms.

4. Choose sunscreens that are white or opaque; it’s easier to see where you’ve applied the sunscreen, and he’ll look cute anyway.

5. Be sure your baby is getting 400 IU of vitamin D everyday, then she won’t need any sun for her vitamin D.

Photo: Limaoscarjuliet, Flickr

Heat Rash

I just flew back from Atlanta for the 4th of July weekend, and, boy, are my sweat glands killing me.

Atlanta has a way of making your sweat glands work overtime, and overworked sweat glands can lead to dreaded heat rash. Heat rash is a common, annoying problem in summertime that develops when sweat glands are blocked, thereby preventing sweat from escaping and irritating your skin.

Hot skin trapped under clothing is often affected, leading to red itchy or prickly bumps (hence it’s other name, prickly heat). Humid heat is worse than dry heat, and anything that blocks the sweat ducts such as lying on your back at night, wearing tight fitting clothing or even applying thick sunscreen is a sure way to bring the rash out.

Prickly heat is commonly seen in babies who aren’t able to tell us when they’re hot and sweaty from being overly bundled up. Hospital patients who are unable to move in bed are also commonly afflicted. Of course, healthy adults can get it too, especially during the dog days of summer.

The best treatment is to get cool. A cool shower, cranking the airconditioning, or taking a dip in the pool will stop the sweating and allow the sweat glands to recover. Sometimes a mild topical steroid such as cortisone cream is needed to calm the inflammation.

Or you can fly to San Diego where the temperature will top out at 72 degrees next week.