After shaving or tweezing, sometimes the hairs can grow back into the skin leading to inflammation and irritation. This is known as an ingrown hair. Just about everyone in their lifetime will develop their fair share of ingrown hairs. In general, teens and adults are more inclined to ingrown hairs.
Although African American males are the most common groups affected by ingrown hairs, it does not discriminate against anyone with tight, curly hair who shaves, plucks, or waxes or uses laser hair removal methods to remove hair.
Not only are ingrown hairs painful in the area that they form, but they also appear as embarrassing bumps on top of the skin.
One way to prevent an ingrown hair from forming is to not remove hair from that particular area. If that doesn’t fly in your book, you can seek out other hair removing procedures that decreases the risk of developing ingrown hairs.
Ingrown hair signs and symptoms
Ingrown hairs usually develops on the chin, cheeks, and chiefly on the neck of a man. Bald men also get ingrown hair on top of their heads from shaving. Off course we can’t leave the ladies out. They usually get ingrown hairs in the pubic region, the arm and the legs.
If you have ingrown hair, you may experience an awful outbreak after shaving, kind of like in the case of acne. The top skin layers may include some expansion of the small tiny blood vessels locate just beneath the skin, giving it a red or rosy appearance.
The signs and symptoms include:
- Tiny, hard, rounded bumps known as papules
- Tiny wound that looks like blisters (pustules)
- Darkened skin (hyperpigmentation)
- Rooted hairs
What causes ingrown hairs?
One of the major cause of an ingrown hair is not shaving correctly. Another cause can be the way that the hair is structured and the direction that it grows. A curvaceous hair follicle, which creates tightly curly hair, is believed to push the hair to go back into the skin once the hair is chopped and starts growing back again. If the hair is shaved, it forms sharp edges in this type of hair particularly if the hair is not wet when shaved. This is known as extrafollicular penetration.
Hair removing methods such as waxing or wearing tight clothing that causes friction may also cause or worsen ingrown hairs. Even though an ingrown hair for the most part is caused by hair removal that is not done properly or aggressively done, every now and then it forms as a result of excessive dead skin debris blocking the opening of the hair follicle, making the hair grow diagonally.
Difference between ingrown hairs and razor bumps
Ingrown hairs can grow in the form of pseudofolliculitis barbae, also known as razor bumps. Razor bumps are tiny red bumps that develops on the lower face, chin and neck area and may grow and become inflamed with repeated shaving. Razor bumps mostly affect black men, especially if they shave regularly. The razor bumps can be spotted on shaved areas next to the opening of the hair follicle. Pustules and abscesses may occasionally appear in the presence of bacteria on the skin. If the situation is extremely bad or not properly taken care of, the skin can turn darker in color and permanent scarring may occur. This type of skin condition can be seen in black men with fascial hair because their hair follicles are curved.
How to prevent ingrown hairs
Here are a few ways that ingrown hair can be prevented:
- When you are about to shave, make sure that you wet the hair first with lukewarm water
- Try not to shave too close to the skin and an electrical razor is best or a standard one
- Use a gel that will leave your skin smooth
- Make sure to use a razor that has only one blade
- Ensure that the blade is sharp
- Do not pull on your skin when shaving
- Be sure the blade is rinsed out after each stroke
- When you are done shaving, be sure to dress the area with cool compresses
- Use a hair remover cream. Be careful that you don’t leave it on too long in an area as it can cause skin irritation
Home remedies for ingrown hairs
Even though an ingrown hair cannot be cured, it is likely to decrease the chances of them ever occurring in the first place. The simplest way to do that is to learn how to properly take care for your hair and skin.
- When you’re getting ready to shave, make sure that the skin and hair is wet and moisturized
- Avoid shaving in the opposite direction of the hair growth
- Do not shave to close to close to the skin
- You can use salt or sugar as a natural exfoliator to relieve irritation that’s associated with ingrown hairs
- Use a washcloth that’s damped and wash away the hair for several minutes in circular motions to help remove any tips that were left
- When you use and electric razor, a couple of shaving methods may help prevent an ingrown hair from ever forming. The top of the electric razor should be somewhat off the surface of the skin and shaving should be done very slowly in circles. If you press the razor too close to the skin or pull at the skin to get a better shave, you may develop ingrown hairs because of the closeness of the shave.
- Gently use a clean needle and wipes containing alcohol to remove those pesky ingrown hairs or use a tweezer to pull them out. These methods are not usually suggested because of the further damage that it can cause.
Ingrown hair treatments
Despite the fact that an ingrown hair can go away on its own and instinctively come out of the skin, sometimes they can be difficult to get rid of. Some treatment options includes:
- A chemical product to actually remove the hair
- A doctor pulling out the ingrown hair with a small incision
- Laser hair removal
To get the best results, a combination of these methods above are recommended. For the more severe cases, you need to talk to a doctor specifically trained in dermatology for the best treatment that will work for you.
Chemical products like Nair can help unbind the structure of the hair, creating unsharpened hair tips at the opening of the hair follicle. It is best to use them every other day because of the irritation that it can cause to the skin. If irritation does occur, use a hydrocortisone cream to relieve it.
Laser hair removal may benefit in preventing ingrown hairs. This treatment can help to permanently reduce the amount of hairs in an area. As of now, laser removal only works on those with darker hairs. It is typically a fast, effective, and safe option with a little risk of skin discoloration.
If you want to permanently remove the hairs, electrolysis may be another option for you. This process aims at a single hair follicle at a time and can be done on any skin or hair color. Electrolysis permanently destroys the hair follicle to the root and is usually slow, time consuming, and requires more than one treatment.