This article explains what causes ingrown hairs, the symptoms, where they occur, home treatment, and when to contact a doctor.
An ingrown hair is hair that gets stuck in the skin instead of growing outward. These hairs are most often caused by hair removal methods such as shaving, waxing or tweezing.
In some cases, these bumps can become infected or cause a cyst to form. An infection of the skin around the hair follicle is called folliculitis.
People who have frizzy or curly hair are more likely to have ingrown hairs. Sometimes you can see the hairs under the skin. However, it is important not to attempt to remove it yourself, especially if you notice symptoms of infection.
When hair grows inward from the skin, it can cause irritation that creates small red bumps on the skin. These bumps can be itchy and look like acne.
Ingrown hairs can appear after using different hair removal methods. However, not everyone who uses hair removal methods will get ingrown hairs.
Some common symptoms ingrown hairs include:
- visible hairs under the skin
- small red bumps on the skin
- itchy, sensitive skin
- cysts or bags of fluid under the skin
- pimples filled with pus
If an ingrown hair develops, it’s important not to scratch it or further irritate it by shaving, waxing or pressing the area. This can cause further inflammation or increase the risk of infection.
If ingrown hairs become infected, medical treatment may be needed to treat the infection and prevent possible complicationsincluding scarring or hair loss.
Contact your GP or dermatologist immediately if the following symptoms occur or do not improve with home care:
- yellow pus draining from the ingrown hair area
- pain, warmth, or tenderness in the affected area
It is also important to contact a doctor if you continue to have multiple ingrown hairs or if you are unsure if the problem is an ingrown hair. This is common so people confuse flat warts or symptoms of a condition called ringworm of the beard with ingrown hairs.
Your healthcare professional will discuss treatment options for ingrown hairs or ingrown hair cysts. They can also provide advice on the causes of ingrown hairs and how to prevent them.
Ingrown hairs most of the time result from shaving, waxing, tweezing or threading. These hair removal methods cut the hair close to the skin, allowing the hair to curl inward as it grows.
People with very curly hair are more prone to ingrown hairs because the curved shape of the hair follicle can cause hair to grow sideways into the skin.
the Canadian Dermatology Association describes these other ways hair removal techniques can cause ingrown hairs:
- When shaving, pulling the skin taut can cause the ends of the hairs to retract under the skin.
- Shaving also cuts hairs at an angle, making them more likely to curve back into the skin.
- Although waxing pulls the hair out by the root, the hair that grows back may grow to the side instead of straightening.
Shaving too close to the skin or using a dull razor can also make you more inclined with ingrown hairs. Doctors also recommend hydrate and exfoliate the skin, which helps slough off dead skin cells and encourages hair to grow in the right direction.
Any area where hair grows can be at risk of developing ingrown hairs.
Ingrown hairs can appear anywhere you use hair removal techniques. Common pitches for ingrown hairs include:
- face and neck
- legs and inner thighs
- pubic area
People who regularly shave the beard area and upper neck are more likely having multiple ingrown hairs, which can lead to a condition called pseudofolliculitis beard.
Wherever ingrown hairs grow, it is important not to pick or attempt to remove the ingrown hair yourself. This can irritate ingrown hairs and make the area prone to infection.
Ingrown hairs sometimes go away on their own if you let them grow. However, if an ingrown hair persists, or if it becomes more swollen or tender, it could indicate an infection that requires medical treatment.
A dermatologist is a doctor who specializes in skin care. They can examine your ingrown hairs and assess any other symptoms you may be experiencing. Your dermatologist can try to release ingrown hairs or inject an intralesional steroid into the area to reduce inflammation. They may also prescribe a topical steroid or a topical or oral antibiotic.
If you are diagnosed with folliculitis, your dermatologist may prescribe medication to treat the infection.
If you have recurrent or widespread ingrown hairs, especially those that develop folliculitis, your dermatologist may recommend long-term hair removal treatments, such as electrolysis or laser hair removal.
You can treat ingrown hairs at home by applying a warm washcloth several times a day. Applying a gentle exfoliant can help loosen the hair. It is important not to try to pull the hair out with too much force or to use needles or tweezers to try to remove the hair. This can cause irritation and increase the risk of infection.
Applying a mild acne medication, such as benzoyl peroxide, to an ingrown hair can help reduce the risk of infection.
Using over-the-counter creams containing alpha hydroxy acids, salicylic acid, or glycolic acid between hair removal sessions can help keep skin smooth and healthy. decrease the probability formation of ingrown hairs.
Your doctor can prescribe medication to help treat an ingrown hair and the symptoms it can cause.
the Canadian Dermatology Association lists these types of medications that dermatologists may recommend or prescribe:
- Retinoid Cream: This can help slough off dead skin cells and generate new ones. It can also reduce the appearance of dark spots and thickening of the skin that can occur with ingrown hairs.
- Topical steroid cream: Available over-the-counter or by prescription, a steroid cream can help reduce inflammation around ingrown hairs.
- Antibiotics: If you have folliculitis, your dermatologist may prescribe antibiotics to clear up the infection. This can be a topical medication that you apply to the skin or, for more severe infections, an oral medication that you take by mouth.
- Topical creams that slow hair growth: Doctors may prescribe a cream called eflornithine hydrochloride (Vaniqa) which may slow hair growth.
How to prevent ingrown hairs
the the most efficient One way to prevent ingrown hairs is to let an area of hair grow without using hair removal techniques.
If you prefer to epilate certain areas, the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK recommends these steps to help prevent ingrown hairs:
- gently scrub with an exfoliator to slough off dead skin cells and release trapped hairs
- wet your skin with lukewarm water
- using shaving gel
- using an electric razor, if possible
- if you prefer a blade razor, use a new single blade razor every time you shave
- do not shave too close to the skin
- shave in the direction of hair growth
- using as few strokes as possible to shave
- rinse the razor after each pass
- apply a cool, damp washcloth to the area after shaving
- trying hair removal methods without shaving, such as hair removal creams
- consider long-term hair removal procedures, such as laser hair removal or electrolysis
If you have ingrown hairs, it’s important not to shave the area, as this could cause further irritation.
Ingrown hairs occur when hair grows inward toward the skin instead of outward. This can cause irritation that results in bumps that look like acne.
Ingrown hairs usually result from hair removal techniques such as shaving, tweezing, or waxing. These practices keep the hair very short and close to the skin, giving it more opportunity to grow inward. People with very thick, curly hair are more likely to develop ingrown hairs.
The best way to prevent ingrown hairs is to avoid any type of waxing. For those who choose to shave or epilate in a different way, tips for avoiding ingrown hairs include shaving in the direction of hair growth, using a new razor each time you shave, and using moisturizers and exfoliants to remove dead skin. cells and hair.
If the area of an ingrown hair becomes swollen, warm, tender, or produces pus, you may have an infection called folliculitis. A dermatologist can diagnose folliculitis and prescribe treatments such as antibiotics to clear up the infection.