Background.  Children with excessive hair may have severe psychological consequences. Laser hair removal in adults is known to be safe and well tolerated, but this is less well established in children.

Objective.  To describe our experience with laser hair removal in children, and to investigate the safety and tolerability of this procedure in children.

Methods.  The case records of 24 children aged < 16 years, who had received a minimum of three treatments for hair removal were analysed retrospectively. For patients with Fitzpatrick skin phototype II–IV, the lasers used were a long-pulse alexandrite (755 nm) with either continuous chilled-air cooling at fluences of 16–27 J/cm2 or a long-pulse alexandrite with cryogen cooling at fluences of 16–32 J/cm2. For patients with Fitzpatrick skin phototype IV–VI, lasers used were a long-pulse Nd:YAG (1064 nm) with a chilled contact sapphire tip at fluences of 20–35 J/cm2 or a long-pulse Nd:YAG with cryogen cooling at fluences of 16–26 J/cm2.

Results.  Mean age at first treatment was 12.3 years. Diagnoses were constitutional hirsutism (14 patients), polycystic ovarian syndrome (five), congenital melanocytic naevus (two), generalized hypertrichosis (two) and naevoid hypertrichosis (one). One patient required a general anaesthetic, eight required topical anaesthetic cream, and 15 did not require any form of anaesthesia. Intolerable discomfort requiring adjustment in fluence was the only recorded side-effect, affecting two cases. There were no incidences of blistering, infection, dyspigmentation or scarring.

Conclusion.  When administered appropriately, laser hair removal is safe and well tolerated in children aged < 16 years.