An ingrown hair is a hair that grows back into the skin, instead of out of the skin. It can be caused by a number of factors, such as shaving, waxing, chemicals, or even genetics. It’s a common occurrence, but that doesn’t make it less of a nuisance when an ingrown hair comes along, especially if it is in a sensitive or visible part of the body.
When an ingrown hair occurs, it can cause inflammation, redness, and a bump that may resemble a pimple. You can usually sense it with your fingers. This inflammation can be painful and itchy, and, in more severe cases, ingrown hairs can lead to infection. In extreme cases, if left untreated, the ingrown hair can form an abscess, which is an accumulation of pus under the skin. These lumps of pus can sometimes leak and release a pungent sticky yellow liquid. They are not always painful, but they are usually emotionally distressing and can make people self-conscious.
Symptoms of an ingrown hair
Knowing the symptoms of ingrown hair is important. Firstly, look out for pimple-like bumps on the skin. They may contain small amounts of pus and be pink in their surrounding color. Secondly, you may experience swelling and possibly some tenderness in the affected area. And finally, the area around the ingrown hair may appear darker than normal. Check your body carefully. If you have a lot of hair on the affected area it may be difficult to spot, so it is worthwhile having a regular check of areas of the body that are denser with hair.
Causes of ingrown hairs
Unquestionably, the most common cause of ingrown hairs is shaving and, to be exact, most often an improper shaving technique. When you shave, make sure you use a sharp razor and, ideally, move it in the same direction as the hair growth. Failing to do this can be part of what might lead to the hair growing inwards.
Another cause is a blunt razor, which means more force is required to cut the hairs concerned. This aggravates the skin and increases the likelihood of hairs ingrowing. And another common cause is wearing tight clothes, as this can lead to sweat being trapped and oil gathering in the follicles, which triggers hairs to grow inwards.
Exfoliating is important because it helps remove the dead skin cells that are preventing the ingrown hairs from growing out. To exfoliate, use a gentle scrub or apply a light pressure with a wet washcloth. It’s important that you avoid harsh exfoliants, as these really are not necessary. After all, skin is tender and does not need abrasion to have dead surface skin removed. For best results, use lukewarm water. Usually, weekly exfoliation is sufficient.
Use gentle cleansers
Using a gentle cleanser is an important step in getting rid of ingrown hairs. Mild soap and body wash, or a facial cleanser with lukewarm water, can help to keep the skin clean and free from irritation, which will help prevent new ingrown hairs from forming. Regular weekly exfoliation with a body scrub or loofah in the shower will also ensure that you are able to get rid of any dead skin cells that could block hair follicles. This approach is especially useful for areas of the body that are harder to reach, like the shoulders or back or more personal areas. They need to be cared for and kept freshly exfoliated too.
Always use a clean razor
Among the best ways to prevent ingrown hair is to use a clean razor. By ensuring a sharp, clean blade for each shave, you enjoy a smoother and healthier process with a significantly reduced risk of getting ingrown hairs and any of the associated follicular infections that come from an overused blade. It really is hard to overstate the importance of a sharp and clean blade when it comes to avoiding ingrown hairs. Do not skimp on the quality of the blades you buy.
Keep the skin moisturized
It’s essential for your skin that you use a moisturizer regularly. Ideally, use one morning and night, and certainly after showering and shaving. This will help prevent irritation, dryness, and ingrown hairs. As a general rule, look for something that not only hydrates, but also helps retain moisture in the skin. Products containing jojoba oil, shea butter, or aloe vera are all great options. You may also wish to use a moisturizer with SPF capacity, as the sun can dry your skin and make it more susceptible to becoming tender, which makes shaving a more problematic process. It really is an absolute essential to moisturize your skin.
This is an option many people find effective, but it is not for everyone. On one hand, tweezing is fast, relatively painless and cost-effective. In addition, you can do it yourself in the privacy of your own home. The downside is that it may involve breaking the skin, which could lead to infection. Knowing your own skin is important. Tweezing is also easier for parts of the body that are easy to reach and see as you tweeze. It is less useful as a tactic when you are straining your attention or your arms to reach somewhere.
Washing with warm water and antibacterial soap
Using warm water and soap helps soften the skin, which in turn can help the hair to break through the skin’s surface. Always use warm water before you shave to open up the pores and make the shaving process easier. Antibacterial soap is also an important component in a healthy skin routine, and of course it will also help to reduce the chances of skin infections.
Applying topical creams to reduce inflammation
A gentle oil-free moisturizer can help alleviate any inflamed areas of your skin. Alternatively, an anti-inflammatory ointment containing cortisone, or, for more serious infections, an antibiotic, can also assist. It’s important to talk to your doctor or dermatologist if you’re considering using one of these products, in order to make sure it will be effective and safe. Obviously only a medic can prescribe you antibiotics.
This is not a treatment many ever have to go down, but it is available for you if you feel it wise or necessary. On the one hand, steroid injections could offer relief from troublesome ingrown hairs. Injections contain medication that can reduce swelling and inflammation, allowing the hair to be released more easily. However, always remember that steroid injections can occasionally be dangerous if used in large amounts or over a prolonged period of time. Paradoxically, they can actually harm your skin by causing acne, skin thinning, and even, in some rare and extreme cases, vision loss. So, if you’re considering steroidal treatment, you absolutely must make sure you speak with a doctor.
With laser treatment, a laser beam is used to target individual hairs, causing an injury to the follicle while leaving the surrounding skin unaffected. By damaging the follicle, it stops the hair from growing back and, ultimately, reduces ingrown hairs. The best thing about laser treatment is that there’s almost no recovery time and results can usually be seen after just one session. Of course, you’ll absolutely need to speak to a medical professional to determine if laser treatment is right for you and your particular skin, but if you’re looking for a way to reduce ingrown hairs, especially if they are repeatedly coming in the same place, laser treatments are a decent option.
This really is exceptionally rare. Surgery is only used when other treatments have failed. It’s a highly invasive procedure that involves cutting away the affected area of skin and removing any trapped hairs. It’s important to note that this is a permanent solution and once it’s done, so you need to be entirely certain it is what you want. As with all surgical procedures, it’s important to assess risks with medical professionals.
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is a natural remedy for many things. It has antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties that can help reduce redness or itching, and it can help prevent infections in your skin. One approach is to mix it with a base oil, like coconut, and gently massage it into the affected area. Doing this can help draw out the trapped hair and reduce the discomfort caused by irritation.
Apple cider vinegar
At Healthnile we are fans of apple-cider vinegar. Its powers are wide-ranging and it can be used in multiple ways. If used carefully, its acidic properties work to exfoliate and dissolve dead skin cells that can trap hair follicles and lead to ingrown hairs. Just mix equal parts apple cider vinegar and water and apply it to the affected area. Leave for a few minutes and then rinse off. If using it for the first time, use it in a heavily diluted form until you see how it affects your skin.
Coconut oil is widely known to soothe inflamed skin and reduce redness in your skin. It can be highly efficacious in reducing and healing ingrown hairs. Additionally, the oil can help keep skin hydrated and moisturized, while gently cleansing away excess oils and dirt that can cause hair follicles to become clogged and inflamed in the first place. This makes it a useful aid when it comes to minimizing the irritation and discomfort caused by ingrown hairs.
Aloe vera is another excellent natural remedy that is packed with anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that help soothe skin troubled by ingrown hair and that work softly to reduce inflammation. It is a gentle and cleansing way to calm and moisturize your skin simultaneously, leaving it soft, hydrated and smooth.
It is simple to use and can be applied in gel form directly to the affected area. Let it sit for a few minutes on the skin and then wash or wipe it off. By repeating this process regularly, you will limit the number of ingrown hairs you experience.
Lemon juice is a great antiseptic and a boon to skin in many ways. The acidity in lemon juice helps to exfoliate dead skin cells, which in turn can help to prevent ingrown hairs and clogged pores. Be careful, however, when applying lemon juice to the skin, as its acidic nature can cause redness, irritation, and even a light burning if it is used too intensively. So ensure you exercise some caution. Lemon juice has its significant plus points, but check the suitability of your skin before applying it undiluted.
Honey is not associated with treating ingrown hair by most people. But it really is a fine ingredient. It has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties, and this means that it can reduce the redness and irritation from any ingrown hairs, as well as helping to unclog pores. In addition, it has wonderful humectant, moisture-retaining properties, and this helps to keep skin supple and flexible, which of course then prevents ingrown hairs from arriving in the first place.
Its application is simple. Mix 2 tablespoons of honey with 1 tablespoon of warm water and apply it as a paste directly to the affected area. Leave it on for around 10 minutes, then rinse off with lukewarm water. It won’t be an immediate solution to every ingrown hair, but it will certainly positively affect the frequency of ingrown hairs over time, while also ensuring your skin is moister.
The skin is a huge part of our bodies. It is susceptible to all kinds of assaults and hazards, and ingrown hairs are one of the things that it is hard to avoid. But with the right steps, you can keep your skin healthy in ways that limit the skin’s natural propensity to ingrow the occasional hair. A final reminder of the core approaches.
- Shave well
- Exfoliate weekly
- Keep your skin moist
- Ensure the right balance of oils
- Attend to your skin’s cleanliness
- Do what you can to avoid your skin being aggravated by tight clothes
These approaches will make a major difference.