Ingrown Hairs Do Not Have To Be A Problem
Ingrown hairs occur when hair grows back into the skin, not to the surface. Most often, hair that is shaved, waxed, or plucked will grow back through the skin and toward the surface. When an ingrown hair develops, you may notice small, round bumps called papules or small, pus-filled bumps called pustules.
Sometimes, dead skin can clog up a hair follicle. That forces the hair inside it to grow sideways under the skin, rather than upward and outward. Sometimes, cutting naturally curly hair too closely will result in the sharpened end of the hair piercing the skin, causing an ingrown hair.
Ingrown hairs aren’t serious. But they can be irritating and embarrassing.
What Does an Ingrown Hair Look Like?
An ingrown hair irritates the skin. It produces a raised, red bump (or group of bumps) that looks like a little pimple. Sometimes an ingrown hair can form a painful, boil-like sore.
Ingrown hairs can be itchy and uncomfortable, especially if you’ve got a lot of them. You may notice pus inside the bumps. Or you may see the hair that’s causing the problem.
Ingrown Hair Treatment
Often, an ingrown hair will go away on its own. If it doesn’t go away, an ingrown hair can become infected, darken the skin, or leave behind a scar, especially if you’ve been scratching or picking at it.
If an ingrown hair is bothering you or has become infected, your doctor can make a small cut in your skin with a sterile needle or scalpel to release it. Your doctor may also prescribe medicine such as:
- Steroid medicine that you rub on your skin to bring down the swelling and irritation
- Retinoids (Retin A) to remove dead skin cells and reduce the skin pigment changes that can occur from ingrown hairs
- Antibiotic that you take by mouth or rub onto your skin to treat an ingrown hair infection
Longer hairs aren’t as sharp at the ends, so they won’t be as likely to curl around and break through the skin. But for men who prefer a clean shave — or women — avoiding the razor may not be an option.
- Every day, rub your face in a circular motion using a wet washcloth or an exfoliating scrub to tease out any stubborn ingrown hairs.
- Shave with a sharp, single-bladed razor.
- Wet your skin with warm water before shaving and apply a lubricating gel.
- Shave in the same direction your hair is growing.
- Use as few strokes of the razor as possible. That lessens the chance of a hair slipping back into your skin.
- Rinse the blade with water after every stroke.
- Don’t shave too closely to your skin. Leave a little bit of stubble if you can.
- If you’re using an electric razor, hold it slightly above the surface of your skin.
- Apply a cool washcloth to your skin after you shave to reduce irritation.
You can also try other hair removal methods that are less likely to produce ingrown hairs. Those methods include depilatory creams that dissolve the hair, and a laser to permanently remove the hair follicle. Hair-removal lasers can effectively help in decreasing ingrown hairs.