Can laser hair removal treat hidradenitis suppurativa?

Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) is a chronic inflammatory skin disease that causes papular lesions in areas such as the armpits, groin, and breast area.

This condition starts with a single lesion, or boil, that fills with pus and erupts. The exudate from these boils is often foul-smelling, and the area may become infected.

The number of lesions increases over time. As lesions heal, they can cause scarring, which can be disfiguring.

HS is caused by blocked hair follicles and inflammation of the sweat glands, which can lead to infection. While there is no cure for HS, there are treatments that can slow the progression of the disease and help prevent and cure lesions.

Laser hair removal has been shown to help treat hidradenitis boils.

In this article, you’ll learn more about HS, how laser hair removal can help improve the condition, and what to expect from laser hair removal treatments.

What is hidradenitis suppurativa?

HS is a recurrent skin disease that affects quality of life. HS reason:

  • painful nodules
  • abscess
  • pus-filled pockets will erupt
  • Subcutaneous tunnels (sinus tracts) that may become infected
  • scar

The disorder usually occurs after puberty, usually before age 40. Women are more likely to develop HS than men.

Early diagnosis of HS is important to help slow the progression of the disease.

HS is divided into three stages. These are called Hurley stages.

Hurley stage I: A mild form of the disease with little damage, no sinus tracts or scarring.

Hurley stage II: A milder form of the disease with multiple recurrent lesions, sinus tracts, and abscesses that erupt throughout the area.

Hurley stage III: The most severe stage of the disease, characterized by extensive boils and abscesses, multiple interconnected sinus tracts, and scarring.

Treatment for HS depends on the stage. Lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking and antibiotics, steroids, and biologics (a prescription drug) are used to treat the disease.

People with HS often have to try different treatments to manage their HS before finding what works.

Laser hair removal is an increasingly common treatment due to the difficulty in finding a precise treatment for HS.

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How does laser hair removal work?

Laser hair removal works by targeting the melanin, or pigment, in the skin where the hair follicles are darker. Lasers can damage hair follicles, causing permanent hair loss.

Laser hair removal treatments are very common in dermatology practice because they are non-invasive, quick, fairly painless and produce long-lasting results.

More recently, laser hair removal has been used to help treat HS. Since HS is primarily caused by problems with the hair follicles, destroying the hair follicles can help reduce the symptoms of HS.

In a small study on HS laser hair removal, the amount of inflammation decreased and boil healing increased. Although scarring was still noticeable, there was an overall significant improvement in HS after four months of treatment.

In one review, laser devices have all reported benefits for HS, although long-pulse laser treatments are often preferred because they are safest in darker skin types, which are most commonly affected by HS.

Although the results of these studies are promising, more research needs to be done to demonstrate the effectiveness of laser-based therapy in HS.

Managing odor from HS symptoms

Who is a good candidate for HS Laser Hair Removal?

If you’re considering laser hair removal treatment for HS, it’s a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider first.

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In the past, people with lighter skin may be more likely to receive laser hair removal treatment because lasers that target melanin may adversely affect darker skin. However, advances in technology have resulted in safer and more effective lasers for darker skin, creating options for all skin types.

Overall, the treatment has been shown to be very effective in eliminating inflammation around HS in Hurley stage I and II patients, although Hurley stage III patients also improved.

How many treatments do you need?

The number of laser hair treatments needed to treat HS depends on the type of laser used and your individual response to the treatment. You may need to repeat the process monthly or weekly for a few months to a year.

There is no one exact treatment option as research is still being done to find the optimal amount of HS laser hair treatments.


While there are benefits to using laser hair removal for HS, there are some factors to consider. These include but are not limited to:

  • Cost: Laser hair removal can be very expensive, especially if it takes months of treatment. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the average cost of a session in 2020 is $389. Since laser hair removal is considered a cosmetic procedure, these costs are not always covered by insurance. However, it was felt that the procedure was classified as medically necessary and should be covered.
  • Effectiveness: While small studies have shown benefits, more research needs to be done to determine the true effectiveness of laser hair removal for HS.
  • Relapse: HS is a systemic disorder, which means it can affect the entire body. Even if HS improves with laser hair treatment, there is a chance that symptoms of this condition will recur elsewhere.

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HS is a chronic inflammatory skin disease caused by abnormal hair follicles. Laser hair removal may help with this condition because it destroys the hair follicles. Although research is limited. There is some evidence that laser hair removal can help relieve symptoms of HS in mild to moderate cases.

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Laser hair removal treatment is a good option for HS, especially if other treatments have not worked. However, if you’re considering laser hair removal to help treat HS, be sure to consider the cost, as it’s not always covered by insurance, and the results may not be permanent.

When considering laser hair removal, talk to your healthcare provider about whether laser hair removal is right for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is hidradenitis suppurativa a sexually transmitted disease?

    HS is not an STI and is not contagious. HS is an inflammation triggered by hair follicles and the immune system.

  • Is hidradenitis suppurativa hereditary?

    Genetics is thought to play a role in the development of HS.

  • Do hair removal creams work for hidradenitis suppurativa?

    Hair removal creams can help treat HS by eliminating the need for shaving, which is known to cause irritation and exacerbate the lesions of HS. However, it is not as effective as laser hair removal and can also cause irritation due to the chemicals used in the cream.