Post waxing folliculitis: a clinicopathological evaluation

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Epilation by waxing is one of the common methods of removing unwanted body hair, and follicular papules following this cosmetic procedure are not uncommon. However, this not so uncommon problem has not been clinically and histopathologically evaluated.


To study the clinicopathological profile of folliculitis temporally developing after epilation by waxing.

Subjects and methods

Clinical and histopathological evaluation was done in 28 patients who developed follicular papules within a period of eight weeks following a history of epilation by waxing over the same area. The demographic profile and the method and frequency of waxing were noted. The symptoms associated with and the morphology and distribution of the follicular lesions were recorded. A punch biopsy was done from a representative follicular lesion to evaluate the pathological changes..


All the patients recruited were females (100%) with a mean age of 24.33 + 2.43 years. While all 28 patients had waxed their forearms, 25 had waxed their arms, 18 their legs, and 10 their thighs. The most common sites affected by folliculitis were arms (25; 100%) and forearms (15/28; 53.6%). Thighs, though least frequently waxed, were involved in seven (70%) subjects. Of these, seven (25%) women complained of itching. The lesions in all patients were erythematous to skin colored follicular papules, though two (7.1%) patients also had nodular lesions. A punch biopsy done showed features suggestive of pseudofolliculitis. A granulomatous reaction was seen in nine (32.1%) biopsies. A foreign body identified as a hair shaft was seen in seven (25%) biopsies and keratin in one biopsy.


Folliculitis following epilation by waxing is more frequent in proximal parts of the extremities than in distal parts, even though distal parts are more frequently waxed. In one-third of the cases, post-waxing folliculitis is due to foreign body reaction to hair shaft or keratin and resembles pseudofolliculitis. To know exact pathogenesis, additional biopsies with multiple step sections need to be taken to look for retained fragments of hair shaft and /or foreign body reaction.

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