Excessive Arm Hair on 7 yo girl...Laser Safe?

My 7 year old daughter has light skin w/dark arm hair. Her father is Italian and has a large amount of hair on his arms and legs. Her hair is long and thick on her arms and legs. Her legs can be shaved down the road but her arms are causing a lot of embarrassment for her. She has a high self esteem currently but I’m afraid that this will be lowered over time. Other girls have started pointed it out and making comments.

She wants it shaved or waxed. Her first cousin (same coloring and hair problem) who is now 17 has shaved her arms since she was in 3rd grade. She has to shave everyday. I don’t want that for my daughter and I’m afraid that one day I am going to walk into the bathroom and find her shaving her arms. Her other sisters don’t have this problem and she dosen’t understand “why she has to be so hairy”.

I was going to contact a local doctor about laser hair removal. However, from what I have read Lasers aren’t a sure thing and they haven’t been around that long to know the long term effects. I don’t want to subject my daughter to something that could cause ill effects in the future. Any imput would be greatly appreciated! Thanks for your time and interest.

Jo - [color:“blue”] [/color]

Seven years old is pretty young, but there are published reports of use on children (see below).

As you note, the long-term effects are undetermined, since this has only been widely available since about 1997.

Using sunscreen is critical, especially with a child that age.

I wouild strongly urge you to coordinate any treatment with a dermatologist.


J Clin Laser Med Surg. 2000 Dec;18(6):277-80.
Hair removal using the long-pulsed ruby laser in children.
Morley S, Gault D.

Department of Plastic Surgery, Restoration of Appearance and Function Trust, Mount Vernon Hospital, Northwood, Middlesex, UK. S.Morley@beatson.gla.ac.uk

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to assess the efficacy of laser assisted hair removal in children aged 16 and under using the long pulsed ruby laser. BACKGROUND DATA: Unwanted hair in the pediatric population can be due to congenital hairy nevi and hypertrichosis. Methods of effecting hair removal include shaving, electrolysis, and laser depilation. The long-pulsed ruby laser is an established treatment modality in adults, but its use specifically in children has not been investigated. METHODS: Patients aged 16 or under undergoing treatment with the ruby laser for unwanted hair were assessed. Hair counts were determined before and after treatment and an assessment of overall satisfaction was made using a parental questionnaire. RESULTS: Treatment was regarded as successful in 25 out of 28 cases where there was a clear reduction in hair growth at the site treated with an average fall in hair count of 63% at 6 months follow up. There was no scarring or hyperpigmentation in this group and no serious complications. Total suppression of hair growth was not permanent but usually lasted between 3 and 6 months. Few problems were encountered from using the technique specifically in children, and pain was well controlled in most cases. CONCLUSIONS: We would recommend the long-pulsed ruby laser as a useful form of hair removal in children that is quick, simple and well tolerated. At present, the technique leads to hair loss that is temporary but most patients and their parents feel the treatment gives worthwhile benefits.

PMID: 11572220 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Arch Dermatol. 2001 Jul;137(7):877-84.
Primary generalized and localized hypertrichosis in children.

Vashi RA, Mancini AJ, Paller AS.

Division of Dermatology, Children’s Memorial Hospital, 2300 Children’s Plaza-107, Chicago, IL 60614, USA.

OBJECTIVE: To review the causes, presentation, and therapy of primary generalized and localized symmetrical hypertrichosis in children. DESIGN: Retrospective medical record review. SETTING: Academic specialty referral clinic for pediatric dermatological disorders. PATIENTS: Case series of 11 prepubertal male and female patients who had idiopathic hypertrichosis between July 1, 1990, and November 30, 1999. INTERVENTIONS: None. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Clinical distribution of increased hair growth and types of hair removal methods used. RESULTS: Seven girls and 4 boys, ranging in age from 4 months to 11 years, were evaluated. Four patients showed generalized hypertrichosis. The other 7 patients had localized symmetrical hypertrichosis, representing the subsets of hypertrichosis cubiti, anterior cervical hypertrichosis, posterior cervical hypertrichosis, and faun tail deformity. All patients with generalized hypertrichosis manifested the condition at birth; the age of onset in children with localized symmetrical primary hypertrichosis ranged from birth to 4 years. One girl with generalized hypertrichosis had gingival hyperplasia and the girl with faun tail deformity had bony diastematomyelia with spina bifida occulta. The medical histories and physical examination findings of all of the children were otherwise unremarkable. All patients were referred for diagnostic and therapeutic considerations. CONCLUSIONS: Primary hypertrichotic conditions, whether localized or generalized, are rare in pediatric patients and of unknown origin. Although otherwise benign, these disorders may result in cosmetic disfigurement and psychosocial trauma for patients and families. Patients and their families should be adequately advised of the available treatment methods for both temporary and permanent hair removal.

Publication Types:

Review, Multicase

PMID: 11453806 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

I recommend to do laser or any permanent hair removal treatments after teens are past puberty. Hormones are the major cause of excessive hair growth, and there is a good chance hair can come back during puberty.

I do agree with LaserX, in that the hair may come back in puberty, but I don’t see why not to treat now. As long as the understanding that the process may have to be repeated for the new growth is there, and a Dr is contacted. This is not fun for kids. My 9 year old son wouldn’t wear short-sleeved shirts to school for a year because of the kids teasing him for his arm hair. And he’s a boy, where it’s more “OK” to have this. Just follow the advice of the Dr. The biggie with lasers is that they make the skin more sensitive to the sun for a period of time post-treatment. Sunblock is a must, to avoid any pigmentary problems. I do feel for you. My guy asks me all the time if I can take care of his problem, and I’m finding out now if we allow it. Let us know what you decide, OK?

If you go ahead and get the treatments for your children, have them done in the winter to deal with the sun sensitity issue. Definitely consult a dermatologist though, one that offers hair removal would be even better so he can supervise treatment for this unusual medical condition.

My practitioner has treated similar cases under the direction of a dermatologist with great success. Why make the children suffer by waiting until puberty?


Hi - Thanks for all your input! I am still debating the best way to handle this problem. I saw my dermatologist today and discussed this w/him. He does not perform removal but gave me a name of a dermatologist office that has techs perform it in Houston (we live 60 mi away). I contacted them and was told the same thing about puberty. They did say that she may need maintenance treatments in the future including puberty and they would be charged at a much reduced rate…$60.00 the other procedure would be $200 to $300 per procedure…appx 3 to 4 times.

I hate to put her through anything painful or stressful. I think I’m going to try bleaching her arm hair first during the winter to see the outcome. If it still is a problem I will probably look into the removal next Fall. Since we live in Texas she will be out in the sun Spring, Summer and into late Fall. I will keep you posted! Thanks again for all your time and interest! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> [color:“purple”] [/color]

Jo -

Hi Jo:

Just from personal experience, laser can be painful and I don’t personally think that would be suitable for a child.
I think the other methods you mentioned in your last post will be better.

Perhaps in a few years if she really wants it, it may be a way to go.