I am interested in getting Laser hair removal done, but a source mentioned that it can cause break-outs for people who are carriers of Herpes virus although without recent breakouts. Is this accurate and if so, why? Is it not mentioned during the initial consultation when discussing risks?
Laser Hair Removal May Trigger Herpes Symptoms?
Doctor Answers (4)
The Incidence of Triggering an Outbreak Not High
Laser hair removal is performed in a lot of places. A board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon would ask these questions – this is our field and we are the experts here – and people going to a non-medical office would have no idea what we are talking about and how to even think about having treatment for HSV given.
Laser Hair Removal and Herpes
Cold sores and laser hair removal
Even if no one ever has had a cold sore, they may have been exposed to the virus. The virus is kept in check by our normal immune responses. If the immune system is depressed because of fatigue, severe illness, stress, heavy alcohol consumption, sunburns or other traumatic episodes or medical conditions, the virus may work itself from the nerve ganglion through the path of the nerve to where the nerve supplies the skin with sensation. You may feel the tingling for a day before the cold sore breaks out. If you have any laser, the stress to the skin could be a precipitating factor to encourage the cold sore to develop. Not all physicians recommend an antiviral medicine for you to take, but if you have a history of cold sores in the area of laser hair removal, it is not a bad idea to consider taking a medication to help reduce the chance of you developing the fever blister.
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Usually Laser Hair Removal does not cause cold sores.
Thank you for your question.
In general, laser hair removal around the lips and chin does not usually cause a cold sore breakout. When discussing laser or facial procedures that may lead to a cold sore eruption, the rule of thumb is this: if the treatment does not damage / break / destroy the surface of the skin, the risk of a herpes breakout is low. If the epidermis / surface is damaged, then the risk of herpes reactivation is higher.
That being said, laser hair removal does not generally lead to a cold sore breakout. Ablative laser resurfacing or chemical peeling may have a higher risk of causing a cold sore breakout and prophylaxis would be best applied in these situations.
Hope this helps!