How to Get Rid of Ingrown Hairs
Do you know what to do if you start developing ingrown hairs?
In this article, we’ll talk about what ingrown hairs are, and what causes them. We’ll also share some tips for treating them, should you need to.
What Are Ingrown Hairs?
Ingrown hairs can cause bumps, itching, and mild discomfort. But what exactly is an ingrown hair?
The University of Rochester’s Medical Center provides us with a fairly succinct definition.
“An ingrown hair, or pseudofolliculitis, is a hair that curls and penetrates the skin with its tip, causing inflammation,” writes the University of Rochester. “Ingrown hairs are more common among people with very curly hair. Most ingrown hairs happen in the beard area on men and the bikini or groin area on women.”
As mentioned by the University of Rochester, ingrown hairs are known by another name, pseudofolliculitis or pseudofolliculitis barbae. When the word “pseudofolliculitis” is followed by the word “barbae” what you’re talking about is this condition manifesting on a specific part of the body, mainly around the face.
Doctors gave ingrown hairs this Latin name because its symptoms look similar to those of another condition called folliculitis. Remember though, they aren’t the same. Folliculitis is a skin infection which is caused by either sweat, bacteria, or some other kind of wound.
Ingrown hairs, on the other hand, are only caused by hair growing the wrong way.
What Causes Ingrown Hairs?
Both the structure of your hair and the direction it grows can play a role in whether or not you will develop an ingrown hair at some point in your life. The University Of Rochester mentioned this a bit in their description of pseudofolliculitis, but the Mayo Clinic goes into more detail.
According to the Mayo Clinic, most ingrown hairs develop for two reasons. The first has to do with the hair quality itself. Curly hair, by nature, doesn’t grow out straight. It curls. That means it’s much more likely to grow down into the follicle than naturally straight hair.
The second factor has to do with people cutting their hair. When a patient cuts his or her hair, they’re effectively giving the hair end a sharp edge. This allows curly hair to re-enter the skin more easily.
These two factors dramatically increase a patient’s chances of developing ingrown hairs.
There are other risk factors that can increase your chances of developing ingrown hairs.
For example, if you’re going to shave your skin, pull your skin a bit so that it’s more taut than normal. Shaving skin while it’s in its natural position increases the chance that you’ll develop ingrown hairs. This is because you can’t get as close or as clean of a shave as you would if your skin was taut.
Another instance where you’re more likely to develop ingrown hairs deals with tweezers. When you frequently tweeze your hair, you’re much more likely to damage your ends. Split and damaged ends work similarly to the sharp edges you create when you cut your hair. It makes it easier for the hair to get back under the skin and form an ingrown bump.
Symptoms Of Ingrown Hairs
The symptoms of ingrown hairs are pretty easy to notice.
The symptoms of pseudofolliculitis include:
- Small, solid bumps or papules
- Hyperpigmentation (a darkening of the skin around the bumps)
- Embedded hairs
- Small, pus-filled blisters or lesions
- Discomfort or pain
Ingrown hairs are generally not dangerous in and of themselves. In fact, they’re mostly annoying. That being said, there are some other health conditions that can develop as a result of ingrown hairs. Unlike ingrown hairs, these conditions may be worth worrying about.
Chronic ingrown hairs can increase your chances of developing:
- Bacterial infections
- Darkened skin spots
- Permanent scarring
Chronic ingrown hair problems can lead to minor skin damage. If you want to keep your skin looking healthy and clean, ingrown hairs can become a problem. Likewise, so can bacterial infections and folliculitis. Most of the time these skin infections are minor and will clear up on their own, but there are always those rare, extreme cases where a skin infection gets worse over time and further medical help is needed.
Even though ingrown hairs aren’t usually worth worrying about, it’s always a good idea to take care of your skin whenever a problem develops.
Ingrown Hair Treatment Options - How to Get Rid of Ingrown Hairs
The Mayo Clinic explains that if you develop an ingrown hair, you should stop shaving, tweezing, or waxing that area until the condition clears up. According to the Clinic, that will take anywhere between one and six months depending on the severity of the condition.
They also offer other ingrown hair treatment options such as:
- Steroid creams
- Skin ointments
- Mild antibiotics
- Laser treatments
The Clinic also says that patients who have ingrown hairs should be careful how they try and remove them. They recommend that you first wash the area and use a sterile needle to slowly remove the hair loop from the skin.
The University of Washington has a lot of advice about properly shaving and cutting hair to minimize future cases of ingrown hairs. For example, they suggest that you should shave slowly to minimize the damage done to hair that can help it become ingrown.
Take Care Of Your Skin
Hopefully, you’re now better able to recognize and treat the symptoms of ingrown hairs.
Your skin is important and it’s worth caring for.
If you ever notice that you’re developing ingrown hairs, go ahead and take care of it.