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Avatar universal

Electrolysis Scars

Dear Doctor,

Last April, I had an electrolysis treatment by my daughter who had just completed electrolysis school. After the treatment, I had one month of deep scabs. These scabs turned into red dots, then dark spots. There was also the sudden appearance of wrinkles at the corners of my mouth. I kept hoping that this would get better but within four months of the treatment, the dark spots worsened into what looks like a mustache on my upper lip. By the fifth month, the entire area suddenly became cracked and wrinkled. It is also dry and itchy. There is also what looks like one white freckle as well. The mustache stain faded some over the winter but I am terrified it will return.

Can you tell me what happened to my skin and, if possible, recommend any products (brand names) I might use?

Just sign me,
Waiting in the Dark
19 Responses
563773 tn?1374250139
The lesion that you have described sounds like a scar with post inflammatory hyperpigmentation. The treatment for post inflammatory hyperpigmentation includes various skin creams like hydroquinone, azelaic acid, corticosteroids, tretinoin cream and laser treatment.Apply hydroquinone cream on this scar and it should go away in a few days to months.If it still persists then you can go in for laser treatment, Chemical peeling or microdermabrasion. Avoid picking, harsh scrubbing, and abrasive treatments unless prescribed by a dermatologist during this period.

Hope it helps.Take care and pls do keep me posted on how you are doing or if you have any additional doubts. Kind regards.

Avatar universal
Thank you kindd,
I appreciate the info on the name for the discolouration of my skin as well as your advice on the names of possible treatments. I have heard that with hydroquinone that there is a risk of further darkening of my skin.Since I don't know in what instance that could happen, I'm holding off. I've also heard that these acid creams serve to thin the skin out, which might worsen the wrinkles?  Also I heard that tretinoin could cause hair loss, which would be terribly upsetting in light of my loss facially. Laser, I think would be out of the question because my skin is tan in colour. For now I am avoiding the sun, using a hat and (unfortunately carcinogenic) sun block. Avoiding the sun is a huge inconvenience in that it means covering my face while I'm in the car on a sunny day, not washing the dishes in the daytime because the sink is in front of a window. Not going jogging in the morning, or riding my bike in the daytime, not swimming in a lake and worrying at the bus stop or a walk to the grocery store... My life has become very restricted in my efforts not to look like a ruined bill board but I feel that living with what looks like a mustache scribbled on my face is worse. I can't wear any makeup to cover the pigmentation because it only emphasizes the weird wrinkling around my mouth.

I will be experimenting with different kinds of makeup and sun block and will let you know which are the most effective. If all my efforts to control the pigmentation fail, I may try dermamelan. Have you heard of this product? Do you think it may worsen my problem?

Thank you so much for your response and your kind regards. They mean a lot to me at this time in that I've felt quite alone in this struggle.
P.S. Any idea what the weird wrinkling could be?
Thank you once again
563773 tn?1374250139
Since you are saying that the area has become dry,itchy and wrinkled,so the possibility of eczema is there. It is a form of chronic dermatitis (rash).Allergic reaction is one of the important causes of eczema.

Wash the areas several times with fresh water. Do not use any cosmetic products at the sites. You can apply some calamine lotion at the rash as it will help in soothing the skin. You can take some OTC oral antihistamine medications like Benadryl or Claritin and see if it helps.

For mild-moderate eczema a weak steroid may be used (e.g. hydrocortisone as dermacort), whilst more severe cases require a higher-potency steroid (e.g. clobetasol propionate, fluocinonide).

Eczema can be exacerbated by dryness of the skin. Use good quality moisturizers to prevent moisture loss from the skin.

If still the symptoms do not improve then pls get a clinical examination done by a dermatologist.
Hope it helps.Take care and pls do keep me posted on how you are doing or if you have any additional doubts.Kind regards.

Avatar universal
Hi Kindd, Thank you soo much for your quick response! I have seen these "wrinkles" on one other individual who was scarred by electrolysis. I know it's hard to judge without seeing me, so here is a brief but very specific description. It looks like ridges and grooves at the corners of my mouth almost in a plaid design. There is one short vertical line almost as high as my nostril. There is a short vertical line on one side of my upper lip extending right down to the lip. I also have one pock mark under my nose. The skin texture looks dry and parched with many fine lines that don't extend all the way down to my lip. All of this is on the area that was worked on where the skin is also pigmented. The moisturizer, as you suggested, stops the itchyness. The wrinkles however remain and could be getting worse in that I am begining to see more lines extending to my upper lip on the other side. I fear these wrinkles and grooves could be collagen loss resulting from the depth of the injury to my skin??? My skin seems to have lost it's elasticity and ability to self moisturize in that area. This wrinkling happened very suddenly (to my panicky horror) within a two week time frame in the  fourth month after the electrolysis treatment. The rest of my face is free of wrinkles (no brackets, no crows feet and also, no dry skin) and I had no sign of wrinkles any where beforehand. I've been applying my makeup on the bus in a very closely held hand mirror for years and noticed no gradual onset of lines on my face, let alone anything this drastic and so as you can imagine, I was quite freaked out by this. Could electrolysis gone wrong cause sudden collagen loss or premature aging in the area worked on? What is this weird and sudden wrinkling called and do you think skin can heal itself with proper care?
I'm in a bit of a dilemma in that when I've tried to cover the pigmentation with makeup, the grooves and ridges look much much worse. If you have the chance, I'd much appreciate your opinion.
I have been having difficulty finding a family doctor as there is a shortage where I am from and I've therefore been having  trouble getting a referral. Until then it has been a huge weight off my shoulders to be able to communicate with you and my skin does feel better since I started moisturizing. Thank you once again for your advice, opinion and your kind regards.
563773 tn?1374250139
You have explained the skin lesions very well.After reading your post, I feel that the lesion that you are having is due to scarring and pitting of the skin which is a rare side effect of electrolysis and occurs due to carelessly or rapidly done electrolysis or due to the sensitiveness of the skin to electrolysis.

Unfortunately for this type of scarring or pitting, there is no medical cream as such which can treat it but surgical excision by a good plastic surgeon and laser resurfacing have given promising results.I would therefore recommend these two.All the advertised creams which claim to treat it are an eye wash and although tough for you,but the condition can be treated only from a plastic surgeon or a cosmetologist/dermatologist.Pls consult them for these wrinkles.

I hope it helps.Take care and pls do keep me posted on how you are doing or if you have any additional queries.Kind regards.
Avatar universal
Dear Kindd,
Thank you for the information, suggestions and your kind concern. At this time I am going to see how much I can accomplish without surgery, by keeping my skin out of the sun and or at least protected by sun block. I will look into the cost of these treatments later on. So far I've had some success using a primer under a concealer to minimize the wrinkling and pigmentation. It is very inconvenient though in that I have to keep washing it off to apply sun block every two  hours in order to keep the sun block effective. Sigh
Thank you once again
Avatar universal
I had electrolisys on my eyebrows, and I have litle dots scars....it is hiperpigmented a little and it looks like small sunken scars...is there any posssibility that this will resolve? (the electrolysis was made  two and half months since now...maybe i can post a picture... http://i41.tinypic.com/ftzt03.jpg (copy this where is written your present adress
Avatar universal
I wanted to write to you to let you know that I like yourself am left with post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation from electrolysis....Dont know if it was over treatment with too high settings or just my own bodies reaction.  It has totally broken my self confidence and wish how I could turn back the clock.  I have searched the internet high and low to find information on post inflammatory information from electroloysis and was suprised to find very little.  I am a Fitzpatrick skin type II so it is apparently very rare for this skin type to have this sort of reaction...but I did.  I have been to a dermatologist who prescribed Tri-luma which I have been using for a month with encouraging results.  I recently spoke to a cosmetic therapist who told me to stop using it immediately as it changes your DNA and makes hyper pigmentation worse so I am devastated.  I like you am petrified of getting in the smallest bit of sunshine and having to apply sunscreen all day is very impractical.  What skin type are you?  Have you tried any skin lightening creams?  I am researching one at the moment called Meladerm (more natural ingredients and no Hydroquinone).  If you would like to converse let me know.  I am sorry for your experience...just want you to know that you are not alone.  
Avatar universal
Dear Hindsight123,
I did see a plastic surgeon who at one time did electrolysis. He and another electrolysist feel that the electrolycist had the power up too high causing the scabbing and that she may have been practicising with improper insertions. She herself mentionned improper insertions as a possible cause. The Dr. recommended Dermamelan, which is a very expensive skin treatment after which there is maintenance with another cream by the same company. The cream is approximately $1000.00. The plastic surgeon said that I would most likely suffer a return of the scar every summer.

I have been having trouble getting a dermatologist to treat me in that the two that I saw were told that this happened to me as a result of an electrolysis treatment and seemingly do not want to create any documentation from their offices. The first one stated that he did not specialize in scars and said that I should get a referral to a certain dermatologist from my GP's office, refusing to refer me himself. He also refused to recommend a moisturizer. After the GP referred me to the second dermatologist mentionned by the first one, I had no better luck. The dermatologist described what I had as post inflammatory pigmentation initially. But as soon as he heard that electrolysis was what caused it, he changed his diagnosis to "melasma" which is a non injury cause of hyperpigmentation that is usually hormone related and associated with a woman's reproductive years. He attributed the strange indentations/wrinkling/sunken scars to the mechanical movement of my mouth (like a smoker who gets lines around their mouth from the repeated movement), and insisted that none of the symptoms I am complaining of are caused by the electrolysis. The thing is, I also have sunken scars around my eyebrows where she did some work and I don't smoke. Nor are the lines around my mouth in a location where a smoker would have them.He also advised that all of the treatments for my problem (hydroquinone...) are carcinogenic and bear a risk of darkening the scar, and that the only other alternative would be laser which is inappropriate because I have tanned coloured skin. When I asked him to recommend a sun block, he said that he has none. He told me to ask the pharmacist for a good sun block and bleaching cream. On my way out of the office I saw a whole wall of La Roche Pose sunblock. He lied. He also said that the risk with Dermamelan is that the pigmentation could get worse.
Because these dermatologists won't so much as recommend a sun block or a moisturizer let alone a treatment or a referral to someone who is willing to diagnose and treat my skin, I am still in the dark as to what works and what won't work.
It seems to me from what I've read, that people who use these bleaching creams on darker scars are happy with the results. After the scar has lightened however, they complain that the creams have the opposite effect of darkening the scar to a shade worse than when they started.

The various relatives of AHA s (acid creams) seem to have the effect of thinning the skin out. I am told by doctors that thin skin has a tendency to wrinkle and that the reason why Black people's skin takes longer to age is because their skin is thicker ( the plastic surgeon told me this).

I am currently wearing a hat that covers most of my face, wearing Tisilc (a sun block that got a good write up on skindeep) and living a very restricted life in terms of avoiding the sun.

It probably isn't what you want to hear, but these treatments seem too scary to me.

I think that if I can fade the scars enough by staying out of the sun, hopefully to the point of nonexistance, eventually they won't come back. In my experience with pimple scars, as long there is a tiny bit of pigmentation, the sun will darken it. But if I can stay out of the sun long enough for it to fade completely, it won't come back. My problem is that the winter wasn't long enough for it fade completely.
So at the moment, I'm terrified of the sun and every time I blow my nose from summer allergies, I'm putting more sunblock on and worrying that my skin hasn't had a chance to absorb it. Sorry I couldn't be more help.

I met a woman whose doctor insisted that a scar she had from an operation on her abdomen was permanent. She kept her tummy covered and the scar disappeared. I'm considering going to Alaska haha or wearing a Hijab lol (I'm not Muslim). I'm also looking into natural treatments like yogourt and lemon juice or witch hazel to fade the pigmentation. I'll let you know. I also use Vitamin E cream and take Silica in gel form everyday.
I hear your pain. We're in this together. Try covering the pigmentation with skintrue by annabelle. But wait at least 20 minutes after applying the sunblock to put it on. Also, use a brush to put it on. It covers the pigmentation fairly well and doesn't seem to emphasize the sunkenness of the scars as much as other coverups. Thanks for mentioning Meladerm. I'll see if anyone has tried it on Realself. I'm on there too as scarface.
Because that dermatologist's first interest seemed to be to avoid getting involved, I'm not sure if he was being truthful about dermamelan. The plastic surgeon who recommended it has always been very honest. So I'm not ready to give up on that as a possible treatment yet. I'll keep you posted. And yes I would like to converse. Thanks for letting me know I'm not alone - much appreciated.
Take care and don't do anything desperate re: trying treatments out without fully researching it.
Avatar universal
Thank you for taking the time to reply sf.  I found a few messages posted on (EDS) website regarding dermal hyperpigmentation.  A member who had hp from electrolysis, IPL and acne has posted information regarding her personal search and application of treatments.  

She (Dips18) talks about taking high doses of vitamin C and crystals/tablets called MSM to help the skin heal from the inside out (esp for dermal hp).  So I have stocked up on those and will take increased daily doses.  All natural and beneficial too so I have nothing to lose in trying, and everything to gain including additional support for the body.  

Also, with summer near for you you may be interested in a product called Heliocare which she only used during the summer months.  It helps block the suns harmful rays but they recommend not taking over the long term, but I will definately try over the summer.  

Also, I have been told that sunscreen with zinc is the best so I have just bought a product called invisible zinc (a 4 hr waterproof 30+ sunblock and a tinted 3 in 1 (moisturiser, mineral makeup & block).  Will let you know how I get on.

Check out the link below.  


ps; my hp consists of small dots where each hair follicle was entered and zapped.  I am assuming that it is dermal as thats where the hair root is.  Is this the sort of hp you have?  

Best wishes
Avatar universal
I have just had electrolysis and there are pin head scars. Will these scars fade or do I need to apply cream or something on them straight away. I am still in the middle of treatment so I just wanted to know if I could leave the scars for another month or so and then apply cream or something or do the scars need to be attended to immediately. Any help would be greatly appreciated. :)
Avatar universal
Dear Juzzy 888,
Some electrolysists cause scabs. These scabs, however, should fall off by the end of the day, leaving you looking great. Sometimes the skin looks a bit pink after a treatment but this disappears within an hour or two. Anything more extensive and I would suggest changing electrolysists. The best electrolysists use a Weiss microscope as opposed to a magnifying glass. I never had any scabbing after I started using electrolysists who use that. The microscope improves their visibility increasing the accuracy of their insertion.

Regarding your red dots; red dots could turn into darker dots with sunlight. My hyperpigmentation started out as red dots. Had I known better, when I had these red dots, I would have used polysporin, sun block and stayed out of the sun and while you're at it, stay away from that electroysist. You are not supposed to be getting red dots after an electrolysis treatment.
Avatar universal
The same thing has happened to me. We need to unite and tell others on the net that this can happen. I too have wrinkles I had never had before, which appeared straight after electrolysis. I look old and now I feel old! It ***** ... I want to cry!!! I hope I can find something to fix it!!! I am going to a cosmetic practitioner next month and starting the gym to see if I can strengthen the facial lines I now have. I hope it does not get worse. No one do Electroysis on a large area. Only a small one... you will hate the results! And the damage done to your skin!!!.
Avatar universal
Hi there.. I have just come across this community talking about electrolysis and the damage/scarring to the skin... I had been having treatment/electrolysis for just under two years, I can quite honesly say if I could turn back the clock and not have had it done I would.. It is one BIG mistake that I have made as I am now left with scarring and some wrinkling on either side of my chin, plus the skin is very sensitive now and tends to be itchy with frequent dry patches, I am gutted as the rest of my skin is fine as I have always looked after it using products like clarins etc for my skincare regime, I am now thinking about trying out some organic natural oils on the damaged areas, not sure what to use though I guess I will have to do some research..
I have thought about going to see a dermatologist but fear having anything else done to my skin that isnt natural incase of further damage, I have lost my trust in anybody who claims to know what they are doing now... I have stopped all treatment for electrolysis now and will never have it done again.. My last treatment was back in November 2012, I havnt as yet informed the electrolysis of the damage/scarring she has caused to my skin but maybe I should let her know and ask what she proposes to do about it.....  any help/advice from anybody on this community would be greatly appreciated... many thanks Sally...

Avatar universal
Hi Salpeaks,
I have been covering my hyperpigmentation with a piece of vinyl and a band aid in the summer and near windows in order to lighten the pigmentation. In the winter I keep my face covered with a thick scarf and avoid windows. If I can't avoid windows, I put my special band aid on. I have been using this technique for 2 years with success. The scar has lightened to the degree that people don't notice it unless they look closely. I am conducting an experiment, using this technique with the hoped for end result of lightening the scar to the point of non-existence. I still have the weird wrinkling at the corners of my mouth, which is probably not what you'd like to hear. While I'm glad to look more like myself, the dermatologist is still saying the hyperpigmentation is likely to come back if I stop doing what I'm doing. I still live a very restricted life in that it is no fun going out with a big puffy bandaid on my upper lip. Below is what works and what doesn't work.
During the healing stage:
Vitamin E oil works (since you're still itchy, you are still healing). Use oil instead of cream because oil is more absorbable. After time the Vitamin E won't do anything.

Vitamin C (esther) cream, is recommended by my derm and the natural health folks for both the wrinkling and the hyperpigmentation. I never noticed anything, possibly because I used it later into my injury. Do not use this in daylight as it makes the skin more prone to tanning. Night time only.

You may want to try lemon when your skin is less sensitive for hyperpigmentation.

Coconut oil, as a moisturizer

Use Kosmea oil or Kosmea rose hip oil: My scar darkened from spending a few hours in a sunny kitchen recently, to my dismay, and I used this for 4 days and noticed that the scar lightened. These oils by Kosmea are used to even out skin tone and get rid sun spots. I'm impressed!

Anything containing Vitamin A in it, darkens my scar somewhat noticeably within 1 night and very noticeably within 3 days, even in very light nonprescription amounts. I discovered this using an A, C, E cream. My skin is too sensitive. The Vitamin A acid gel recommended by the derm is way too strong, though he says that in some people it has worked for scar reduction (I guess it burns away the old skin which encourages cell regeneration). I chose not to use it because it can cause hair thinning, even from topical use and the tretinoin family of which Vitamin A is a part is associated with ulcerative colitis, which I have. It also causes skin thinning (which causes wrinkling) and makes the skin more prone to tanning (darker when it retans).

Hats or shade with sunscreen don't work at all.

Sunscreen with folded paper towels under two or three dustmasks, did not work. I spent 8 minutes per day in the sun, driving to work on my bike in this miserable armory and by the end of the summer, my scar darkened to the degree that my derm prescribed Lustra (4% hydroquinone), the heavy duty stuff, which I did not take.

He said that without any protection at all, I should be fine in the sun for  sun for anywhere under a half hour. He was wrong. It takes my skin 8 minutes to tan in the sun even with sun screen, paper towels and dust masks.
He also said that I should be fine in a sunny room for up to 5 hours, without protection: Wrong.

The plastic surgeon I'd seen was more accurate and honest about sun screen not working (he said when they test the SPF, they put globs of it on and no it doesn't provide complete protection).
I may try MSM orally in conjunction with MSM cream with Vitamin C. I'll let you know how that goes.

On the plus side, my skin has become less dry even without oils. Thanks for posting.
Avatar universal
Hi scarface457

I was wondering how you were getting on? Do you still follow the same regime and has your scar faded anymore?

Do you still have the hair problem on your upper lip?

I' started electrolysis on the upper lip and am so scared about wrinkling etc, I have pih from threading so was advised to permanently remove the hair so the skin can heal but even after test patches I've noticed differences in my skin

I recently bleached the hair and it caused my upper lip to go even darker?

I need to get rid of the hair but really don't know what to do, I haven't threaded for 6 months now, in the winter I noticed some reduction in the colour but it's come back again

You are very brave to walk around with a plaster, I got laughed at when wearing a hat

I would appreciate any advice you have?

Avatar universal
Hi Flowers04,
My hyperpigmentation is virtually unnoticeable to someone who is not looking for it and standing very close to me. Both of my doctors say that upon exposure to sunlight that the scar will return. I have tried every topical treatment possible to no avail and taken MSM orally without success as well. I am currently trying 45% zinc cream mixed at the pharmacy since it seems to work on shadows under the eyes and my scar has a greyish tinge to it. I would advise you not to get electrolysis or to use harsh chemicals if you have hyperpigmentation. The only non irritating form of hair removal is shaving, which I very happily did for many years before the mishap.
Take care and let me know how you get on.
Avatar universal
Oh and yes, I am still using my "special band aid." Sadly my dermatologist recommends this over any treatments because it is the safest way to temporarily lighten the scar. All of his methods are high risk for further scarring and even disasterous scarring (ochrinosis or blackening and death of the skin). Thank you for acknowledging my braveness. I have been ridiculed and called crazy and obsessive by "friends" and family who complain about me keeping the windows covered when I'm in the room. Because they don't see a pronounced scar (thanks to my diligent efforts to protect it), they don't understand that without these measures, the re-darkening will occur. So, although I get great results with my special band aid and keeping the windows covered, I have had to receive insult to injury. With the scar I face ridicule and without the dark hyper pigmentation I face ridicule for my methods of protection. I am still sticking it out so that at least I can present a dignified appearance at work. Luckily my work has no windows.
Probably not what you want to hear, but I still have hope that I can fade my skin enough so that the scar won't come back. There have been times that I couldn't protect my skin in the sun and the damage wasn't too bad (a 20 minute swim in a lake), and a few 15 minute conversations outdoors during day light hours, that is in the whole year.
Well, I'll let you know if I meet with success.
Hi Scarface457, How is your scar after all these years?
Avatar universal
Thanks for your response

I tried shaving but it felt so stubbly and the hairs look thicker, the areas where I had electrolysis the hair has come back thinner

I read a previous thread of yours where you successfully had electrolysis, is it because of the bad experience that you got hyper pigmentation?

My derm advised removing the hair and using vaniqua so I don't have to remove it so often

I did notice fading when I wasn't removing the hair but the bleach redarkened it a lot more, I feel so depressed, I have young children so I can't avoid going out in the sun, I cant deprive them

I can't cover it successfully with make up either, have you had success covering it?  What did you use?

I'm going to try a vit c serum at night

Don't know what else to do

Thanks for your help

Hi Scarface457, How is your scar after all these years?
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