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Improve Your Selfies

20 Feb

See an electrologist

Electroepilation (electrolysis, thermolysis, and blend treatments) are safe and effective for large and small areas. Just a few hairs on your chin or upper lip? Fifteen minutes or less and occasional appointments. Feeling like a bear? Schedule several hours and watch your favorite movie.

Who Wants To Be An Electrologist???

10 Feb

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In over 30 years of practice, quite a few of my clients told me they would like to become an electrologist.  I believe they viewed doing my job as an opportunity to be their own boss, to have flexibility and freedom from the drama of working with others, and to be able to spend quality time with family.  Being an electrologist does mean you have more control of your life, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

When I decided to write this blog I thought about all the electrologists I know. A vast majority of electrologists are women who work without employees, and as a result they wear all the hats associated with owning and operating a small business.  Being a “solopreneur” encompasses a large amount of responsibility for one person. Not only do electrologists provide hands-on care to their clients, they also run a business and often juggle a family.

To learn more about who becomes an electrologist, I surveyed electroepilation (electrolysis, thermolyis, and blend) practitioners from social media settings that serve the United States, European and Commonwealth Countries. One survey asked how they decided to become an electrologist, about their views of the profession as time passed and if they would share their personal stories. In another survey about demographics 50% of respondents stated they were the sole support of their family, over 40% share financial responsibility with a partner and less than 10% do not support themselves or their family with income from providing electroepilation treatments.  Nearly 90% of respondents were female; more than 5% were transgender, and more than 5% male.  When asked what they believed the gender of the profession the averages were:  female 89.13%; transgender 6.44%; and male 4.44%.  This survey was taken by a small sample of practitioners and does not represent the actual numbers of electrologists in practice.                    

Attending a school for electrolysis and setting up a business could be one of the least expensive and quickest of professions to enter. The obstacle for many is the fact that there are few electrology training facilities to be found, so leaving a family for the time it takes to receive training may be out of the question.  An individual with a good credit rating should be able to borrow the money to attend school and finance equipment to get started in the business, but again, if your life is already in motion, it is difficult to stop that motion to obtain the education needed to become an electrologist.   

WHO BECOMES AN ELECTROLOGIST?

Electrologists come from many walks of life.  A small percentage of electrologists grow up in the profession, having had family members already in practice.  Over 40% of respondents came to the profession because they had been seeing an electrologist and they wanted to help others in the same way.  One electrologist added that she decided in the 6th grade that she would become an electrologist after having been herself “the original mustache lady.”  Of the electrologists surveyed, 44% of respondents came to the profession from an unrelated background. Fifteen percent of respondents came from the beauty industry, with some developing an interest after receiving mandatory training as part of a beauty therapy program.  Twenty-one percent of respondents came from the medical industry with one-third of those coming from dental hygiene background. Over 10% of respondents came to the profession at a very young age and while some had other jobs this has been their only career.  A small number of respondents reported to have stumbled across the profession accidently, and never looked back after getting into practice.

HOW SOON CAN I MAKE A LIVING?

When respondents were asked how quickly their practice became self-sustaining more than a quarter answered that it took 2 years. Over 20% reported it took more than two years; over 7% said it took a year; and nearly 20% reported it took 6 months to become self-sustaining.  This would indicate that most new electrologists could safely project a three year plan to become established.     

DO I NEED ANOTHER JOB?  SHOULD I CONSIDER OFFERING OTHER SERVICES?

Over 55% of the responding electrologists provide other types of treatments; however they report electroepilation services as providing 85% of their business income.  Many electrologists also provide esthetic (skin care) services.     

WHAT KIND OF HOURS CAN I EXPECT TO WORK?

The average electrologist works between 31 to 40 hours per week providing electroepilation services.  36% of respondents work 1 to 30 hours per week and 33% work more than 41 hours per week with 5% of respondents reporting to work more than 60 hours per week.

OBSTACLES FOR THE NEW ELECTROLOGIST

Respondents were asked what obstacles they had when they were a new electrologist in practice.  Over 70% stated that getting clients to come was their biggest obstacle.  The cost of equipment was a factor for nearly 30% of electrologists surveyed; under 20% found it difficult to find a training facility or apprenticeship; and under 20% believed it difficult to select a location for their business. Less than 4% of respondents believed their young age was a negative factor when they started in practice.  They believed it contributed to lack of support from other electrologists and the fact they had to work other jobs during their start-up years. 

OBSTACLES FOR THE ESTABLISHED ELECTROLOGIST

Being established does not prevent the electrologist from experiencing obstacles to practice.  Fifteen percent reported the cost of advertising was their biggest problem after becoming established.  Over 10% reported advertising by other hair removal methods as their biggest problem.  One electrologist wrote that inaccurate marketing of laser and IPL misleads people to expect complete permanent (hair) removal and in turn, this creates a misinterpretation of electrolysis as archaic and lengthy and only useful on small areas.  Another complaint about “competition” had to do with seeing poor results from nearby colleagues, which they believed caused a “guilt by association” response from consumers.  Over 10% reported being isolated from colleagues and opportunities for education as their biggest obstacle. Less than 10% of respondents stated client retention was a problem after their business was well-established.  One electrologist stated, “Convincing some people to stick with it when they have a lot of hair to remove,” was her biggest problem after being established.  Nearly 15% of respondents stated that they had too much demand, and their obstacles had to do with finding staff to help, or finding staff they could trust.  The cost of doing business was mentioned with respondents listing licenses, location, and advertising as part of a financial obstacle.  The electrologists were not asked how old they were, but 20% of respondents saw the need to take more personal time because they were seeing changes in their stamina due to age as their biggest obstacle to practice.  It is a well-known and recognized fact that electrologists are an aging population with few new electrologists coming into practice.    

JOB SATISFACTION

Electrologists were asked, “Are you satisfied with your decision to become an electrologist? Is there anything you would say to encourage someone who is looking at becoming an electrologist?” The following quotes are just a few of the responses. 

“Yes, very satisfied. The ability to change someone’s life by treating and removing distressing unwanted hair is very rewarding. No day is the same so I never get bored. Just love my job!” Mandy Painting, C&G, BIAE, CPRE

“It was the best thing I could have ever done for myself. I would encourage anyone to take the plunge and stick with it.”

“Yes! Making people feel better about themselves is definitely rewarding. Sometimes you see their whole outlook on life change or they create a more positive environment for themselves. It’s amazing!”  Mary Patno, L.E. http://www.clearchoicenh.com

“A very nice way to be self-employed. Clients are appreciative and excited once they are cleared.”

“Yes. I tell people it’s a great way to work for yourself and that there is a need for skilled electrologists.”

“Yes, I’m satisfied. I can’t imagine a more rewarding profession – you literally change people’s lives by giving them back their confidence. You see people coming to you at first with their hair falling over their face, wearing a polo neck and they won’t look you in the eye because they feel so bad about their hair problem. As treatment progresses you see them coming in with their hair tied back, their head held high and looking you right in the eye – there’s nothing to beat the feeling that gives you, knowing that you are the one who did this for them.” Helen Graham. MBIAE [British Institute & Association of Electrolysis. http://www.about-face.co.uk

“Yes, if you love to help people this is the career for you.”

“It is a great satisfaction to get people to have serious results, but it is very hard sometimes the customer is satisfecho. Necesitas much positive energy, tenacity and self-esteem, because they will require ‘impossible’ and have to do it ‘possible’.” Concha Miralles Diplomada desde 1973. España

SUMMARY        

The aging population of electrologists would indicate the need for a new group of recruits in the profession.  Becoming an electrologist doesn’t happen overnight because it takes planning and time to build up an electrology practice.  Connecting with other electrologists can help with referrals, and networking will help get exposure for a new practice.  Physician referrals are a great to have, but the very best exposure is word of mouth from happy clients.

Skills are important when it comes to being an electrologist.  The training will vary according to the laws where you intend to practice.  Obtaining training and the scarcity of training opportunities may be the most difficult part of becoming an electrologist, but developing good skills is the most important part of the process. The savvy practitioner will continue building on their training by reading, participation in hands-on events and attending continuing education opportunities after they start their practice.

Communicating accurate information to consumers and making the public aware of a electroepilation practice should be expected for the duration of one’s practice.  Even the well-established electrologist will want to continue evaluating their communication skills and practical techniques and treatment results. As time passes better magnification and lighting may be needed to help aging eyes. Upgrading equipment and decor, and checking for “coffee spills,” will make sure the practice surroundings and appearance is acceptable to clients.  Maintaining one’s health will enable the electrologist to continue an ongoing practice.   

Electrologists are included occupational employment statistics for the related profession of skin care specialists (esthetics).  According to U.S. News, “Esthetician” is the 29th of “The Best 100 Jobs,” and 19th in “Best Health Care Jobs.” Skin care specialists are also listed in the fastest growing occupations on the U.S. Department of Labor website.  

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RUN AWAY WITH THE DOCTOR

5 Feb

RUN AWAY WITH THE DOCTOR

These memes are designed to help other electrologists share the word. Let’s build up the public knowledge about electroepilation business….. the electrolysis/thermolysis/blend permanent modalities. Share with your world!

Electrolysis treatments: Are you in good hands?

2 Jan

We’ve all heard the advertisement telling us “You’re in good hands with Allstate.”  Upon seeing this ad, I began wondering how the electrology client would be able to recognize they are “in good hands.”  You are literally in the hands of your electrologist when you seek permanent hair removal.  Most electrology providers have excellent skills, but those who provide improper electrolysis treatments end up giving the rest of us a bad name and they are the reason some consumers believe electrolysis hurts too much and/or doesn’t work.  Improperly performed electrolysis treatments fail to provide permanent results; increase client discomfort and cost; and contribute to a client’s perception that electrolysis does not work. 

The intention of this article is to help you recognize when you have a great electrologist. It is my goal to help you discern good techniques and statements about electrolysis treatment from not so good ones.

THE CONSULTATION

Prior to beginning electrology treatments you should receive a thorough consultation. This video is an example of a great electrology consultation.  Every consultation will be different, but your electrologist should provide you with the information you need and want to complete your treatments.  During the consultation, the electrologist may determine that more information is needed before proceeding and on rare occasions treatments will be delayed or contraindicated until the practitioner can determine what is appropriate. Most of the time – treatment can proceed immediately following your consultation. 

THINGS YOU MIGHT HEAR DURING THE CONSULTATION

“Don’t shave.” 

A consumer posting on hairtell.com reported an urban legend about shaving:  “She told me that shaving breaks down the hair under the skin into several parts, like a tree with many branches.”  This statement can be added to the long list of old wives’ tales about hair.  Shaving is depilation, or removal of hair at the surface of the skin.  The simple act of cutting hair off will not change its structure under the skin.  Another hair-related wives’ tale is “shaving will make hair grow in longer, larger, faster, and darker.” The hormones at puberty turn on hair follicles that were previously dormant. Statements about hair growth should be based on science and not coincidental events.

“Each hair needs several treatments to be weakened.”

Statements like this can be heard from many electrologists.  One electrologist’s website states: “Because it is important to protect the skin, we cannot use an electrical intensity high enough to completely destroy the follicle. A little destruction of the hair root occurs with the removal of a hair in a particular follicle, and over time this hair root will be completely destroyed. At that time, this follicle will never be able to grow another hair.”  I was trained to say this during the consultation.   Upon further practice and experience I discovered techniques that allow hair follicles to be treated once without returning.   An over-cautious consumer might believe this is a safe practice, but repeated applications of current in the follicle might cause unnecessary damage to the skin.  With education and practice your electrologist can apply current to the lower 2/3rds of the follicle upon first treatment while preventing surface damage. 

Perhaps the statement about multiple treatments per follicle is made to help the consumer understand that electrolysis takes a series of treatments. The science of hair growth should be explained in such a way that consumers understand the unsynchronized cycles/stages/phases of human hair growth.  The reason electrolysis takes multiple treatments is due to the time it takes for ALL of your hair to reach the growing stage.

“Tweezing and waxing are okay.”

My friend and colleague, Jeannie M. Bush, RDH, RE, CPE, LI, www.AmenityElectrolysis.com, an electrologist from Wisconsin coined a phrase about tweezing that many electrologists around the world have adopted.  That phrase is, “Only tweeze the hairs you want to keep.”  If the client tweezes or waxes between electrology treatments, then the electrologist will have little or no hair to treat.  Hairs must be present and visible on the skin to be treated with electrolysis.  Repeated tweezing can cause hair follicle problems such as distorted and ingrown hair. 

THINGS YOU NOTICE DURING TREATMENT

“I felt hairs being tweezed.”

The client should not feel like the hair has been yanked out.  When hair has been plucked without proper current application then the hair may need to be treated again.  Being hydrated at the treatment time will help you and your electrologist in several ways.  Hydrated skin allows the electrologist to reduce epilator settings while it also decreases skin sensitivity and increases moisture in the follicle, allowing for the “easy slide” the electrologist is looking for upon hair extraction.

“It really hurt.”

While individual sensitivity will vary, electrolysis should not be a horrible experience.  Yes, there are a few people who feel discomfort to a high degree – I call these people the “Princess and the Pea.”  For most people, electrolysis is uncomfortable at its worst and relaxing at its best.  If your treatments are horrible, then do schedule consultations with other electrologists for a comparison treatment. 

Perfect insertions should result in no sensation.  The sensation comes when the current is applied.  State-of-the-art equipment (there are many good brands) will provide a more comfortable sensation than early epilator models.  The electrologist should be able to adjust epilator settings for your comfort and topical anesthetics can be used (prohibited in some jurisdictions) to help desensitize the area.  You might also consider taking an OTC pain reliever or an antihistamine (please follow manufacturer directions) prior to your visit.  A new item in the profession is Buzzy®, a cute little bumblebee that acts as a distraction during treatments.  Soft music, a calm atmosphere, avoiding stress and caffeine, plus being well hydrated can also help.

“My skin looked bad afterwards.”

Electrolysis does require some healing time. It is common to have some redness, slight swelling, and even the occasional scab after an electrology treatment. The electrologist should give you instructions on how to take care of your skin after a treatment. While there might be some tenderness, there should be no deep pain.  Talk to your electrologist if you have concerns about your healing process. If there are any skin manifestations the electrologist will want to see your skin and should be sympathetic to your concerns.  Read Permanent Hair Removal is the Number One Side Effect of Electrolysis to learn more about possible skin reactions. 

“I take my needle home.”

What!!  No, never. One consumer reported on hairtell.com that during the consultation the electrologist said, “This is your probe. It has only been used on you. You can take it home, or you can leave it here, where it will be placed in a file, or sealed container until you come back, and we can reuse it then.”  This practice is an attempt to economize by the electrologist and results in an infection risk that can and should be avoided.  Electrolysis needles (also called probe or filament) costs up to $3.00 (U.S.) and should be used once then disposed of in a labeled sharps container made of durable, puncture resistant plastic, which is designed to be disposed of as regulated medical waste.  Clients can expect the cost of the needle to be included in their treatment charge. 

Years ago, I wrote an article entitled Selecting An Electrologist For Treatment of Unwanted Hair. My hope is that both articles will provide hair removal consumers with information which will help them recognize when they are in good hands for their permanent hair removal needs.  

In Good Hands

 

About the author: 

After providing electrolysis services for over thirty years, I believe I’ve seen it all when it comes to the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of electrolysis services. I was apprenticed by Wilma B. George in Topeka, Kansas.  I worked with her for almost 10 years before opening my own practice.  In the 20th century, Topeka was a mental health hub of the world, with the world renowned Menninger Foundation, bringing people to Kansas from all over the world, allowing this little country girl to learn about the diversity (and various amounts of hair growth) of humans and to hear about the travels of others.  I am honored to have provided electrolysis to clients who have come from all walks of life and from all over the world. 

Care and Repair of Stainless Steel Tweezers

4 Jul

Care and Repair of Forceps

By Barbara Greathouse, CPE   December 9, 2009

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An instrument used daily by electrologists is forceps, also known as tweezers.  This delicate instrument is used to grasp and extract the hair from the follicle.  Electrologists must be able to trust that forceps are going to do what they are supposed to do, but if forceps are damaged they won’t extract hairs from the hair follicle.  This could result in possible overtreatment of multiple hair follicles before forceps damage is discovered.

History of Forceps

Tweezer-like tools have been in existence since the stone-age.  The first precision tweezers were made for the watch industry in Switzerland in the 1870’s.[1]  These tweezers contained a high carbon content, which made them magnetic and porous.  The advancement of medicine in the 20th century brought the need to manufacture instruments that would not oxidize and could be sterilized.  Stainless steel sheet, the material medical instruments are made from, was developed in 1908. According to the Metals Industry Resource Guide the first patent for stainless steel was issued in 1919 for cutlery.  Swiss made instruments are considered to be of the highest quality available.

There are over 150 grades of stainless steel, with the crystalline structure determining the classification.   The combinations of steel and alloys will depend on the purpose of their use.  Stainless steel instruments will be stamped with numbers and names that identify the grade or content.   Some forceps used in electrolysis will be labeled with INOX, which is the alloy composed of the elements of Carbon and the minerals Manganese, Chromium, Molybdenum, and Vanadium.[2]  The chemical Carbon is a “non-metal” element that allows steel to have increased strength, wear and impact resistance.

Care of Forceps

Forceps are made of stainless steel, but the term “stainless” is misleading.  If not handled properly, forceps can and do stain.  While stains can be removed from stainless steel, stains can cause the damage that leads to rust.  To discover if stains are turning into rust, use an eraser to rub hard over the discolored spots, and then examine forceps for pitting; which means corrosion has occurred.

When blood and debris are allowed to dry on forceps staining can occur, which leads to corrosion, rusting and pitting.  Removing organic material during a treatment will keep forceps free of blood and debris that can be more difficult to remove once it dries out.  Once a treatment has been completed, forceps should be placed in a soaking container with a neutral pH cleanser.  Dish soap, salt, abrasives and chlorines should never be used to clean forceps, as they damage stainless steel, leading to spotting, corrosion and pitting.  Enzyme detergents should be used as they are designed for the crucial steps of soaking and cleaning instruments such as forceps.  Prolonged soaking of forceps can result in surface damage and decrease forceps life, so they should not be allowed to soak overnight.

When extracting an ingrown hair, forceps can invade the skin barrier so proper cleaning and sterilization of forceps is essential.  Studies have shown that ultrasonic devices clean 16 times better than manual washing.  Ultrasonic cleaning is considered the standard for caring for fine instruments such as forceps, since forceps have sharp points and a deep crevice which need the blasting energy of an ultrasonic cleaning device. Dissimilar metals should not be combined in ultrasonic cleaners, as ion transfer can result in etching and pitting.  When placing forceps in containers to soak and clean, make sure that the points are all at the same end of the container.  This allows the tips to be free from bumping up against other forceps which protects the points from damage and helps prevent puncture injuries when removing the forceps from the container.  After 10 to 20 minutes of ultrasonic cleaning, forceps should be rinsed and dried.  Rinsing removes the particles suspended on the surface of the forceps, but if tap water is used, the high concentration of minerals can contain chlorine which leaves water spots on the surface.  Air-drying can cause spotting and rusting, so forceps should be placed on a clean towel and then gently blotted as soon as they are rinsed.  Electrologists should not use chrome-plated instruments as ultrasonic cleaning can cause flaking of the surface material. Forceps must be clean before sterilization as dried-on debris becomes baked-on stains.

Forceps are packaged and then processed by dry heat or autoclave sterilization.  Cold “sterilization” products should not be used because immersing instruments in solutions for long periods can damage forceps surfaces and liquid “sterilants” cannot be monitored for efficacy.  When using the autoclave, forceps must be thoroughly dried before storage to prevent rust formation.  Proper storage, away from moisture and exposure to soil and traffic will protect forceps from damage.

Safety Issues

Electrolysis forceps have very sharp points that could cause a serious puncture wound to the client or the electrologist.  Client eye protection during a treatment will help prevent an accidental eye injury if forceps are dropped.  When forceps accumulate debris, the electrologist should wipe them from crevice to point (one direction only) with wet cotton.  This is the safest way to remove gross soil from forceps during a treatment.   Care in manipulating forceps must also be taken when handling them between treatments and when preparing them for decontamination.

Forceps Repair

As stainless steel instruments age they can soften with use and sterilization, so older instruments might feel different from new ones.  Even well-cared-for forceps will eventually need repairs.  Like any mechanical device that is used frequently, forceps need a regular visual inspection and may need a yearly refurbishing.  An inspection of forceps includes checking for cleanliness, proper alignment of points and evidence of barbs or chips at the point.  Repairs can be done by a professional instrument repair service, which would use the right tools and should provide a quick turnaround of instruments.  A busy practice should have several dozen forceps which helps limit overuse and should help delay the need for routine repairs.

After investing hundreds of dollars in the number of forceps an electrologist must have, it makes good sense to take care of them so they will last.  Good stainless steel instruments should last for 20 years.  Knowledge of the selection, care and repair of forceps will result in a long lasting investment and developing good habits for proper daily care of forceps only takes a few minutes.


[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tweezers

[2] https://www.dumonttweezers.com/Home/Alloys

Infection Prevention Resources for the Electrologist

2 Jun

 

The Six Steps of Instrument Reprocessing –  Best practices for instrument reprocessing is an important aspect of modern health care as it helps to minimize the patient’s risk of infection. This article is intended to provide an overview of the six (6) recommended steps for instrument reprocessing; cleaning, inspection, packaging, sterilization, sterile storage, and quality assurance.

Detailed Infection Prevention and Control Procedures for Electrolysis – Personal services bulletin from Eastern Ontario, Canada.

Health Standards and Guidelines for Electrolysis – Alberta, Canada.

AEA’s Standards over time:

The 2000 Revised Infection Control Standards for the Practice of Electrology were reviewed and commented on by the following: *Walter W. Bond, MS, Consultant Microbiologist, RCSA, Inc., Lawrenceville, GA (Hospital Infections Program, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA., retired),  *Lynne M. Sehulster, PhD, M(ASCP), Microbiologist, Hospital Infections Program, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA,  Victoria Thomas, RN, MS, Supervisor, Allied Health Laboratory and coordinator, Electrology Program, Ocean County College, Toms River, NJ,  Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, Inc., Washington, DC,  *Review and comment does not constitute endorsement by private organizations or US governmental agencies.

2005 Infection Control Standards for the Practice of Electrology

Basic Hand Hygiene

21 May

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APIC Guideline for Hand Washing and Hand Antisepsis in Health Care Settings provides us with the basics of hand hygiene.  Hand hygiene is one of the most important methods for preventing disease.

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Permanent Hair Removal is the Number One Side Effect of Electrolysis

10 May

Other Side Effects from Electrolysis are Temporary

Permanent hair removal is the number one side effect of electrolysis.  Before you get to your “hair free” status you might experience less-desirable side effects. This article will explain the common and uncommon reactions that may occur after an electrolysis treatment.  

Side effects and their severity will depend on four factors.  Those factors include your type of skin, the aggressiveness of your treatments, the techniques and skills of your electrologist, and your compliance in following aftercare recommendations.

The most common side effect you can expect is redness. This reaction is caused by a dilation and congestion of superficial capillaries.  Also known as erythema, redness is short-lived.  The recommended aftercare is to apply a compress of witch hazel for several minutes to several hours after the treatment.

Redness may be accompanied by a histamine response at the site of the follicle.  This reaction may look like a mosquito bite and is a heat induced or physical urticaria, also described as hives, which appears within two to five minutes of treatment.  This reaction usually subsides within hours of the treatment.

The aftercare for a histamine response can be selected from the following:

  1. For extreme reactions and as a preventative measure take an oral antihistamine prior to treatment. Follow manufacturer directions when taking over-the-counter medications.
  2. Apply a topical antihistamine during or immediately after treatment.
  3. For mild reactions apply a compress of witch hazel with small amount of wintergreen alcohol added.

Occasionally, redness and bumps on the skin will last longer than expected.   This is an infrequent side effect and it is temporary.  Keep skin clean without overusing products and do not pick, scratch or squeeze the bumps.   

Treatment of dense hairs might result in a leaking of blood serum, which shows up as a yellowish crust, usually the day after treatment.  This is not a frequent side effect, and it is not alarming. A day or so after treatment, a scab  may form in the follicle opening.  A scab is nature’s band-aid and it may honey colored or darker, and will protect the healing skin.  It is common for scabs to appear on body areas after an electrolysis treatment.  It is less common for scabs to appear on the face so let your electrologist know if this occurs. 

Utilize the following steps if a scab or yellow crust appears
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  1. Keep the area clean.  Gently wash with mild soap and water, rinse and pat dry.  Avoid rubbing the area and apply a compress of witch hazel.
  2. Keep a scab moist.  Topical ointments can be used to prevent infection and helps keep the scab moist.  Your electrologist may provide recommendations for products to use.
  3. Leave a scab alone.  It may itch, so look for a topical with an analgesic.  Avoid picking or scratching the scab.  Healing will take longer if you remove the scab before it is ready.
  4. As always – keep hands off!!!

An infrequent side effect of electrolysis is the appearance of a pustule a day or two after treatment.  A pustule is a small, inflamed, blister-like lesion.  If you are prone to developing pustules, apply a warm compress immediately after treatment to help prevent their formation.  Salicylic acid may be used sparingly to help dry out a pustule once it appears.

Another infrequent and temporary side effect is bruising. A bruise occurs when small blood vessels leak their contents into the soft tissue beneath the skin.  A bruise can occur from the pressure of the electrologist’s fingers on the skin, when the electrolysis probe punctures the follicle wall, or when the client has taken aspirin-like pain relievers.  Most bruising will show up immediately and the electrologist should indicate that it might be expected.  Witch hazel is the best treatment for bruising and should be used immediately to  enable its astringent action.  A bruise from electrolysis treatment should be gone within 2 weeks.

Clients who have the herpes virus may experience a new breakout if electrolysis is performed in the area of their previous breakouts. Antiviral products have been shown to stop repeated occurrences.  If you feel a breakout coming on, reschedule your appointment to allow for the herpes infection to heal and to avoid autoinoculation to other areas.  Electrolysis will not cause herpes in a client who does not already carry the virus. 

Scar formation is an infrequent and rare side effect. Scars are areas of fibrous tissue that replace normal skin after an injury.  Electrolysis treatments result in minor lesions which do not result in scars, however, over-treatment and improper aftercare and previous skin care can result in damage to the skin known as pitting.

Loss of pigment at the site of the follicle may occur with over-treatment on dark skin. Postinflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) may occur on some skin types.  It is not from an electrolysis error, but from the nature of certain types of skin.  PIH usually subsides once the irritation of treatments has been stopped and can take up to a year to disappear.  Pigmentation spots known as melasma are unrelated to electrolysis treatments but may become more noticeable once excess hair is removed. 

Most skin damage is caused by digging and picking of the skin prior to electrolysis treatments. Chin acne will clear up after electrolysis if it is caused by tweezing of chin hairs. Tweezing contributes to retention of root sheath remnants which inflame the skin.  Tweezing can also result in hairs being broken off under the skin to become ingrown to cause chin acne.  Your electrologist should recommend that ALL tweezing and picking of skin stop.  

What other suggestions can I make for you?

  • Contact your electrologist if you have any reaction that concerns you.  Permanent hair removal as an electrolysis side effect outweighs other side effects a million to one.  
  • Communication between you and your electrologist is important in helping you reach your hair removal goal.  It is common for the first treatment to result in the most skin reaction, so talk to your electrologist if this occurs. 
  • Make sure that your electrologist wears exam gloves and utilizes medical sterilization for instruments.
  • Make sure that your electrologist provides you with a new pre-sterilized and disposable electrolysis probe at every appointment.  
  • It is important for you to comply with aftercare procedures to avoid infection. Stop all tweezing and handle your skin carefully.   
 
Disclaimer:  Please use caution and follow directions when using any over-the-counter product.  Contact your physician for medical advice as this article is not presented as medical advice.
 
 

© Barbara Greathouse, CPE   This work may be reproduced as a complete document without alteration as long as credit and link back are provided.

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Is it time to call the doctor?

26 Mar

From:  Rock the Curves

Every human is born with millions of hair follicles on their body.  Fortunately most of those hair follicles won’t grow “noticeable” hair, and unfortunately some of those millions of follicles will grow larger and longer hairs in the wrong area.

All hair growth is affected by your genetics, your health, and your hormones.  In some cases it is wise to seek medical intervention for excess hair.

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine provides A Guide for Patients with Hirsutism and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.  This guide describes the androgen sensitive sites for hair growth and lists the following causes of hirsutism.

  • Excessive production of androgens by the ovaries (PCOS: Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome, tumor)
  • Excessive sensitivity of hair follicles to androgens (genetic)
  • Excessive production of androgens by the adrenal glands (NCAH: Non-Classic Adrenal Hyperplasia, tumor)
  • Insulin Resistance (HAIR-AN Syndrome:  Hyperandrogenism, Insulin Resistance, Acanthosis Nigricans)
  • Excessive production of cortisol by the adrenal glands (Cushing’s Syndrome)
  • Menopause
  • Medications

The following pictures are representative of the Ferriman-Gallwey score – a method of quantifying and evaluating hirsutism in women.  

Most women will notice hair growth on their face begin with a few scattered hairs on each side of their chin and a few at the corners of the mouth.  If the hair growth progresses, it will follow the pattern you see above until there is a male-pattern growth on the face.

For more information, click to read Evaluation and Treatment of Hirsutism in Premenopausal Women:  An Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline.  

When is it time for a woman to call the doctor when she has unwanted hair growth?

1.  When your hair growth comes on fast.

2.  If you have an apple shaped body.

3.  If you have menstrual irregularity or infertility.

4.  If you begin to notice a darkening of your skin in the folds of your neck or underarms.

5.  When you notice masculine changes in your body such as an enlargement of your clitoris or a deepening of your voice.

Selecting An Electrologist for Treatment of Unwanted Hair

8 Mar

The following article was published several years ago on the AEA website.

Reprinted with the permission of Barbara Greathouse, CPE – Electrology Works

After choosing electrology treatments, the permanent method of hair removal, the next step consumers should take is to select a good electrologist. You might think that licensing, certification or association membership would indicate that the selection process stops there, but there are many more indications (and red flags) to look for when selecting an electrologist.Licensing, Certification, Association MembershipThirty-two states and the District of Columbia license electrolysis as a profession. The state boards overseeing the profession vary from boards of cosmetology and barbering, nursing and medical, health and human services, and include boards of professional regulation, consumer affairs and business. In licensed states, the required training ranges from 300 to 1500 hours. Keep in mind that in an unlicensed state no training is required. Schools of electrology usually require a minimum of 120 hours, designed for those in unlicensed states. Several licensed states include chair-side or apprenticeship training which is usually double the hours required when attending a school. With that in mind, look for an electrologist who has a diploma of training. The licensed electrologist will often use the credentials “LE” or “RE” (registered electrologist) after their name.

Certification is provided through testing by a national organization and is maintained by continuing education. The Certified Professional Electrologist (CPE) credential is the premier certification provided to electrologists by the International Board of Electrologist Certification (IBEC) and secured by PROMETRIC™ a global leader in testing and assessment services, including development and administration of licensing and certification exams for businesses and organizations. Membership in state or national associations is a possible indication that the electrologist is actively involved in the profession. Associations offer continuing education and allow members to keep abreast of the most recent topics affecting the profession. Knowing that your electrologist is licensed, certified or associated with other professionals should give you some assurance of security, but there is more!

Referrals: Phone Book, Internet, Physician, Personal Friends

When seeking an electrologist, personal referrals are a very good start. While many people don’t want to admit that they have excess hair, if you quietly ask, they might tell! Physician referrals can be helpful, but then again, many people don’t even admit to their physician that they have had electrology treatments. Also, local phone books and internet searches can help you find an electrologist in your area. When viewing print, internet and television ads, make sure that they are providing needle electrolysis. In yellow page and internet advertising you will often see “heading jumping,” a type of bait and switch, where practitioners of other hair removal methods advertise as electrologists. If you call, they will make an appointment for you and never tell you that they do not provide electrology treatments.

The Phone Consultation

When you find an electrologist, call for a phone consultation or look to see if they have a website that provides information. During the phone consultation, you can ask about training, licensing, whether or not they provide a free in-office consultation and what other procedures they provide. This would be a good time to ask if the electrologist uses pre-sterilized, disposable electrolysis needles and what other sanitation and sterilization guidelines are followed. Again, make sure they are providing needle electrolysis. An advertisement that states treatments are “painless” should be a red flag. (Electronic tweezers, patch devices, laser and light devices are not electrolysis.) The electrologist will ask you to discontinue any tweezing or waxing when you make an appointment.

The In-Office Consultation

At the consultation, look for a clean, well-organized office and expect a friendly welcome by a professional-looking electrologist. You will fill out a health history assessment form that asks for contact information, questions about the areas you want to have treated, what previous methods you have used to hide or remove the hair, and questions about other health considerations. The electrologist needs this information to provide you with information specific to your hair problem, and to determine if you have any contraindications to treatment. Red-flag the electrologist who does not have this assessment form.

When the form is complete, the electrologist will then explain several things about the treatment. The physiology of the hair follicle and the fact that hair grows in unsynchronized cycles is essential information to help consumers know what to expect from their treatments. The experienced electrologist will be able to design a treatment program for your specific needs, but they will not be able to state the exact number of treatments, or how long it will take you, since your physiology is unique to you. Genetic, hormonal and medication variations will contribute to your specific problem. Ask as many questions as you like during the consultation. If you forgot or missed something during that first consultation, the electrologist should be happy to provide any and all information to you at a later date, if you ask. The consultation should also provide information about what to expect after the treatment, as your skin might be pink or even red for a few hours. It is important that you keep your hands off the treated area, and to avoid situations where your skin will get dirty, sweaty, or irritated for the first few days after a treatment. After-treatment products should be discussed, including what to do if you experience a rare side effect such as a pimple or bruising.

The Treatment

Most consultations will also include a short treatment, where the electrologist removes a few hairs so that you can see what it feels like and how your skin will react. The insertion of the electrolysis needle into the follicle should not hurt, but the treatment energy does sting. Upon removal of the hair, you should not feel that the hair was plucked or tweezed – it should slide out of the follicle with ease. The exception to this extraction sensation is the slight traction that can be felt when some catagen and telogen hairs are removed – as they are held in the follicle by a dried root sheath. Red-flag the electrologist who provides an insertion that is painful or whose hair extraction feels like tweezing. Before any treatment begins, you should see the electrologist wash his or her hands and don gloves. Immediately after a treatment, the electrologist should dispose of the needle in a red sharps container, place the tweezers in a soaking container, dispose of any cotton used during treatment, remove gloves and decontaminate hands by using an alcohol gel or soap and water. Red-flag the electrologist who fails to follow these protocols.

The Sensation

If the treatment energy sensation is too uncomfortable for you, ask them to stop. Make sure that the insertion is not causing pain, as it’s the treatment energy that will sting. There are topical anesthetics available that some electrologists will apply to small areas such as the upper lip or they will sell to you to apply prior to treatment. Some licensed states forbid electrologists’ application of topical anesthetics, however, you can obtain products OTC or by prescription. It is essential that you follow all directions for these products. After the first treatment, most people will say, “Is that all it is?” when asked about the sensation of the treatment. The treatment energy causes the sensation during electrolysis – not the insertion of the electrolysis needle. Some electrologists will provide ice or other cooling methods for you to take with you. The electrologist should provide written instructions for at-home care, but any concern that you have at home should be immediately addressed by calling the electrologist.

The Cost

Many people dismiss electrolysis as an option believing that the cost is prohibitive, but it is very affordable. The consumer seeking hair removal on large areas with dense hair growth will spend more than the woman with a few hairs on her chin. However, all treatments will occur with decreasing length and frequency as they progress. The average consumer spends around $25.00 to $40.00 per treatment (depending upon the geographical area) and is completed within 12 to 24 months. Some electrologists offer reduced pricing with the purchase of blocks of time. You should not purchase a block of time until you have had a few treatments from this electrologist and are sure of your practitioner. Choosing the practitioner who offers the least expensive treatments does not mean the total cost of treatments will be less than choosing the practitioner who offers the most expensive treatment; just as choosing the practitioner who offers the most expensive treatment does not mean that you have chosen the highest quality available. The electrologist with the best skills will give you the most cost-effective treatment.

Office Policies

Professional electrologists will have written office policies about the hours they keep, the methods for scheduling appointments, and the requirements for cancellation. Respect their time by giving 24 hours notice to cancel an appointment. Most electrology practices are owned by women who make a living by selling their time. If you do not give them appropriate notice to cancel, they cannot sell that time to another client, so you should expect to pay for the time you reserved. Exceptions to this would be a medical emergency or the manifestation of a contagious condition such as a cold, flu, or cold sore. The electrologist will also want you to communicate any concerns you have after a treatment.

Savvy Consumers

The 21st Century has brought us to an age of information that exceeds anything known before. Consumers should be aware that there are practitioners from all walks of life who lack the skills needed for their chosen profession. The electrology profession began in the late 1800’s, and the 20th Century provided us with technology and information about the body’s physiology that amaze us still. Education and technology won’t override skills, but they indicate an investment in the profession. There is nothing wrong with consulting with several electrologists in your area before choosing one. The savvy consumer will be knowledgeable about the procedure, will communicate openly with the electrologist, will follow treatment recommendations, and will get results.