X-ray hair removal medical data

X-rays for hair removal are currently banned by FDA in the US. In the first half of the 20th century, X-rays were used around the country in salons for hair removal. The results, while sometimes permanent, caused cancer, disfigurement and death in clients. While they are sometimes used in extremely limited amounts for medical eyelash removal procedures, X-rays are no longer allowed for cosmetic hair removal.

See the historical articles at the bottom of this page for some sobering lessons on the dangers of allowing powerful medical devices to be used by unqualified personnel, and the echoes of quackery seen today in the electric tweezer promotional literature.

Published medical data
  • Pusey (1900): An early medical article extolling the virtues of x-ray hair removal.
  • Cipollaro (1947): This is the first published paper warning against the use of X-rays for hair removal.
  • Cleveland (1948): This paper lists some of the serious medical side effects of hair removal by X-ray
  • Shanks (1967): Discusses the deadly results of 36 years of x-ray scalp epilation at a British hospital.
  • Lapidus (1976): Discusses detailed case histories of 5 women who had cancer on their faces following Tricho System treatment.
  • Harley (1976): Observes a linear dose-response correlation for glands of children irradiated with x-rays for scalp ringworm.
  • Berry (1976): Guinea pig irradiation results in permanent partial epilation at doses in excess of 1400 rad, and complete epilation at 1 year occurs in 50 per cent of irradiated fields at 1740 rad. Side effects ranged from redness to raised blistering.
  • Johannsen (1978): Of 8 sheep receiving full-body x-ray irradiation, 5 were dead within 4 weeks.
  • Omran (1978): Discusses rates of mental disorder following x-ray epilation in 109 subjects.
  • Hartzlar (1984): X-rays used to treat eye malignancies can cause permanent loss of eyelashes
  • Rosen (1989): 12 x-ray hair removal patients have cancer rates and other symptoms that are comparable to those in survivors of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
  • Huda (1994): Reports on temporary epilation on a patient’s scalp after receiving 110 minutes of radiation during a medical procedure.
  • Kyoizumi (1998): Histological study of human hair grafted onto mice which was then irradiated with x-rays.
Historical articles
  • Bookchin (1962): An excellent analysis of the Tricho System, with implications for use of other radiation-emitting devices for hair removal, such as laser and microwave.
  • Caufield (1989): A good overview discussing the Tricho System and the lack of regulatory response, as well as the difficulty faced by activists raising safety concerns.
  • McCoy (2000): The Museum of Questionable Medical Devices has a disucssion of the Tricho System, with illustrations and excerpts from original promotional material.