How to Reduce the Pain of Electrolysis Hair Removal

Depending on your tolerance for pain, electrolysis can be experienced as a slightly uncomfortable sensation to feeling downright painful.

While you may not know how you react to the procedure until you have experienced your first session, there are ways to reduce the pain you may experience.

Why is Electrolysis Painful?

How it Works

Electrolysis is performed by inserting a hair-thin needle or probe into a hair follicle and then applying an electric current to the follicle to destroy it. The procedure works on a hair-by-hair basis.

What Does it Feel Like?

Electrolysis is an invasive procedure and can be painful, most likely on the level of continuous plucking or stinging.

Most often performed on sensitive areas like the upper lip or the eyebrows, you may feel like you need something to help reduce the pain or stinging sensation during the process.

Is it Worth It?

It is currently the only form of permanent hair removal approved by the FDA, and can yield excellent results after a certain number of sessions.

Ways to Reduce Pain during Treatment

We have found several ways to help numb the pain you may feel when going through electrolysis treatment.

Some of these options can only be prescribed by a doctor and we recommend you discuss potential side effects with your doctor and electrologist before taking them.

1 - Non-Medicinal

Some people have found that listening to soothing music through headphones can help divert from pain, others find that relaxation techniques such as meditation can help you to remain calm and take the focus away from the procedure.

Treating the area with ice right before the session starts can also help relieve any painful symptoms.

2 - Over the Counter Medicine

Ibuprofen is the easiest and cheapest medicinal pain relief on the market. Take the recommended dose 30/60 minutes before your session starts and this will help numb nerve endings.

Aspirin isn’t recommended due to its ability to thin blood and potentially cause bleeding

Some Lidocaine topical anaesthetic creams are available over the counter, such as ELA-Max 5.

Creams work by being absorbed into the layers of skin being treated so that there is no sensation during the treatment. It is important to follow the guidelines correctly when applying lidocaine cream, to insure that it works correctly, but also to ensure that you do not use too much or for too long as this may cause certain side effects.

3 - Prescribed Medication

EMLA cream (2.5% Lidocaine, 2.5% prilocaine), or other lidocaine topical anesthetic.  EMLA cream is a topical anesthetic that is available by prescription.  The cream is applied 60 to 90 minutes before the beginning of your electrolysis session to make sure the area is numbed enough.

Injected anesthesia such as Xylocaine solution: this solution can only be prescribed, and is only used in situations where the pain is considered too extreme to continue the treatment (anesthetic injections are also used to numb the mouth during dental procedures, for an example as to how they work).

Some doctors and electrologists recommend this type of pain relief for those with a very low pain tolerance.

Prescription painkillers: also only recommended when you have a very low pain tolerance and can also only be prescribed by a physician.

Prescription painkillers must be taken 60 minutes before the beginning of a hair removal session and it is advised that when taken you should be accompanied and not drive as side effects include extreme drowsiness.

Not Recommended (and Potentially Dangerous)

  • Alcohol
  • Using prescription drugs when you have not been prescribed them
  • Mixing drugs and/or topical anesthetic


While it is possible to only feel slight discomfort during an electrolysis session, some people may find it painful and look for ways to reduce the pain during treatment.

There are natural ways to do this, such as relaxation techniques and music, over the counter options such as ibuprofen, prescribed topical anesthetics, and for those who find the pain unbearable, injected anesthetics and prescription painkillers.

It is always recommended to consult with your doctor and electrologist before trying any prescription medication to reduce pain.