OTHER HAIR. TOPICS Superfluous Hair.— There is no known method which is entirely sat isfactory for removing superfluous hairs. Among the various methods recommended are shaving, plucking out the hairs with tweezers, the use of the electric needle, and various de pilatories. The active principle in these compounds is usually chloride of lime, quicklime, or sulphide of ar senic. These cause the hair shafts to fall out, but do not affect the root of the hair, and hence must be frequent ly repeated. These substances are strong irritants and unless handled intelligently may create ugly ulcers.
Shaving stimulates the growth of the hair and by thickening it in creases the discoloration caused by the ends of the hair shafts showing through the skin. Plucking the hairs perseveringly by the roots, the skin having been previously softened and prepared by the application of a suitable toilet emulsion, is perhaps the most satisfactory method.
A competent operator supplied with the proper apparatus can re move superfluous hair permanently by means of the electric needle. The electrode from the positive pole of the battery is attached to the back of the patient's neck or other convenient spot. A three-cornered electric nee dle with sharp cutting edges is at tached to the negative pole of the battery. This is inserted into the skin, alongside the hair, care being taken not to penetrate too deeply. When the current is applied the nee dle becomes hot and causes bubbles of froth to appear at the point where it is inserted. The needle is then turned so that the sharp corners scrape the adjacent surfaces, and the process is continued until the hair is loosened and destroyed. The result ing scar is so slight as to be hardly noticeable, and if the operation is properly conducted the results are sure and permanent. The following are standard recipes for depilatories. These are severe remedies, and should be employed only with caution and due regard to what has been said above.
Spread equal quantities of galba num and pitch plaster on a piece, of soft chamois leather. Lay it smooth
ly on the superfluous hair and let it remain three or four minutes. It may then be pulled off, hair and all. The inflamed skin may then be rubbed with olive oil.
Or pulverize finely in a mortar 1 ounce of fresh limestone and 1 dram of pure potassa. Soak the parts for 10 minutes in warm water, so as to soften the superfluous hairs. Form a paste of the above powder with warm water, apply with a brush, and re move after 5 or 6 minutes or as soon as the skin begins to be inflamed. To remove this paste, wash it away with vinegar. This softens the skin and neutralizes the alkali.
Or mix equal quantities of sul phuret of calcium and quicklime pul verized to a fine powder. Apply pre cisely as for the preceding. The action is quicker. Hence it should be removed after two or three minutes in the same manner as the last.
To Curl the Hair.—Preparations recommended for curling the hair are usually based upon various more or less adhesive substances, as gum ara bic, quince mucilage, beeswax, sper maceti, and the like, mixed with va rious oils and diluted with alcohol or water. They may be perfumed ac cording to taste. Specific curling properties are claimed for beeswax, oil of origanum, mastic, and carbo nate of potassium.
It is also said that when the hair is clipped, as is sometimes done with children or after a serious illness, if the head is shaved " against the grain " the hair will come in curly or wavy. The use of the egg shampoo elsewhere recommended also has the same tendency.
The following recipes are recom mended: Put in a double boiler 1 ounce of oil of sweet almonds, 1 dram of sper maceti, white wax, or beeswax, and dissolve with very gentle heat. Re move from the fire, stir in 3 drams of tincture of mastic. Bottle and cork tightly until wanted. Apply a small quantity and arrange the hair loosely. This is a French preparation and a commercial article of considerable reputation.