What is an Ingrown hair?
When hair is removed and it can start to grow back abnormally (backwards rather than towards the surface of the skin), curving into the skin, causing an ingrown hair to be formed. Using tweezers, waxing or even shaving might result in small swollen bumps on your skin. These skin bumps appear as raised discolored, often red, spots and might be itchy or even painful. In most cases, these ingrown hairs are harmless and often get better with time without treatment.
These ingrown hair bumps, also referred to as razor bumps, shave bumps, or barber bumps, occur most commonly in areas where hair is repeatedly shaven off or removed, such as your face, legs, bikini area or armpits. This is quite common and can occur in anyone who tweezes, waxes or shaves, especially if you have coarse curly hair.
You might experience skin irritation, pain, and skin discoloration ranging from red to purple, along with small bumps with looped hair into the skin in the area involved. An ingrown hair can occasionally end up getting infected and becoming intensely painful and bigger in size. Pus might end up accumulating around the hair follicle involved.
If you suspect that you might have an ingrown hair, you can use a service like PrivateDoc's skin diagnosis service to confirm this. Your dermatologist might ask you a few questions regarding your skincare routine and shaving habits.
Ingrown hair, if not removed, may cause infection as well as hyperpigmentation, leading to your skin appearing darker than usual around the skin lesion. You might also suffer from scars which can be indented or raised (hypertrophied) if the ingrown hair does not clear up.
How to prevent Ingrown Hairs?
Prevention is made possible by not removing hair close to the skin. Moreover, you can use tips to prevent ingrown hair such as using warm water as well as shaving gel before shaving to clean your skin and moisturize it.
To avoid cutting hair too close to the skin, use a sharp single-blade razor. Avoid pulling your hair while shaving and clean the blade after each stroke. After shaving, use a cool wet cloth to clean up your skin and keep it on for 4-5 minutes. Using a soothing after-shave product also helps exfoliate dead skin cells from your skin.
In addition to this, hair removal therapy is a definitive method to prevent ingrown hair. Therapy options include electric or chemical hair removers.
Treatment of Ingrown Hair
At home, you can easily avoid ingrown hair by using an electric shaver or using depilatory products to help you remove your hair rather than shaving. Warm compresses to the skin area affected might help you open your pores releasing ingrown trapped hair. You might be prescribed medications; in case these practices do not help with your condition. These medications would help with any underlying infection as well as inflammation.
Exfoliating your skin regularly might help you remove ingrown hair by removing the dead skin layer entrapping the hair. Exfoliation with warm water, with slow and gentle circular movements, might help in such cases. You can also release your entrapped ingrown hair by using tweezers to pull it out or lift one of its ends to release it.
A doctor might prescribe you additional medications to treat ingrown hair. These medications include antibiotics, steroids, or acne medications. Antibiotics can be in the form of ointments or even oral pills. Retinoids (acne medications), help remove dead skin possibly relieving entrapped hair. Lastly, steroids are prescribed to decrease inflammation. Furthermore, creams that decrease hair growth are used such as eflornithine.
In severe cases where medications do not work, other hair removal methods such as electrolysis or laser hair removal are suggested. Electrolysis involves using a needle and electrical zap that destroys the hair follicle one after another. This might not be suggested if a huge part of your skin is involved. Laser hair removal helps destroy pigment cells.
Skin consultation £19.99
Skin consultation £19.99
Our simple consultation first process enables you to complete a consultation with a doctor, submitting photos of the affected skin and answering a set of questions that will enable a diagnosis where possible.
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Frequently asked questions about Ingrown hair
When to see a doctor?
If using at-home remedies is not helping you get rid of your ingrown hair, then seeing a health care provider might solve your problem. If the ingrown hair has increased in size, become more painful, or is filled with pus, you should see your healthcare provider as soon as possible.
How will my doctor diagnose ingrown hair?
It is easy to diagnose ingrown hair. Your healthcare provider would clinically diagnose it by examining your skin in a well-lit room. A looped hair under the skin is a classic presentation of ingrowth hair.
Can I just leave an ingrown hair as it is?
Being completely harmless, leaving an ingrown hair as long it is not infected is not an issue and it may resolve on its own. You can use home remedies to treat it at home.