Summer Fun Can Be Destroyed By A Depilatory: Woman Claims Veet Gave Her 3rd-Degree Burns

summer fun
A New Yorker is suing the makers of Veet hair-removal cream, alleging she suffered third-degree burns while sunbathing after using the product. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

A New Yorker is suing the makers of Veet hair-removal cream, alleging she suffered third-degree burns as a result of sunbathing immediately after using the product. Veet's label states “DO NOT sunbathe or swim for 24 hours after use. Failure to follow use directions and precautions may result in chemical burns.” Nevertheless, Lauren Waterman, who used the "fast-acting" gel cream while on vacation in Cancun, Mexico, filed a negligence suit, claiming the warning is too vague, the New York Post reported.

Veet dominates the global market for hair removers with a 41 percent share in 2012 and global sales of about $657 million, according to SF Gate. Veet’s manufacturer, Reckitt Benckiser, also makes Woolite and Vanish toilet bowl cleaner. The company has not issued a statement in response to the New York lawsuit.

While it does not happen frequently, other users of this product have had a skin reaction. In an online post from 2003, Candy tells of her husband applying "VEET" to his face in order to remove his beard. (The label of Veet did not specifically prohibit this, though the instructions listed areas of the body where it is safe to apply.) After running a patch test, the husband applied it to his face and “within seconds his face was burning and we noticed blood seeping through the cream,” Candy wrote. A doctor diagnosed second-degree chemical burns, which left some scarring on his face.

Treating a Chemical Burn

Depilatory creams work by breaking down the keratin in body hair, and their distinctive odor derives from the chemical that dissolves hair, New York City-based dermatologist Dr. Jeanette Graf, explained to Yahoo Beauty. “I wouldn’t recommend depilatory creams for sensitive skin,” Graf told Yahoo. She also recommended performing a simple patch test and then waiting a few hours, just to make sure, before using the cream as directed.

Whether you have a natural sensitivity to the cream or you left the product on too long, you should treat any burn immediately to prevent scarring and tissue injury. Livestrong recommends you begin by rinsing the burn with cool water for 20 minutes. This will help to remove dirt and bacteria while chilling the burn itself. It is not advised that you apply soap or any other cleansing product as this could cause further irritation or dry the skin. Next, you should apply a thin layer of antibiotic ointment to prevent infection of the damaged skin.

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