Shaving, waxing, or tweezing your hair may give rise to some ingrown hair, which manifests in the form of small bumps. Therefore, people tend to remove ingrown hair for smoother skin. But here is the catch! Pressing or poking these pimple-like bumps can sometimes lead to bacterial infections and even leave scars on the skin. So, if you are wondering about the way forward, we are here to help you out. In this article, you will explain what ingrown hair is, its causes, how to remove them safely, and a few tips to prevent its reoccurrence. So, let’s jump right in!
What Is Ingrown Hair?
Ingrown hair is hair curling and growing back into the skin, forming a loop instead of growing outward. This hair is trapped under a skin layer and appears like a bump. Usually, ingrown hair bumps are darker than the individual’s skin tone. Infected ingrown hair can also get itchy or filled with pus. So, what causes hair to grow inside the skin? Find out in the next section.
What Causes Ingrown Hair?
- Dead skin usually clogs the hair follicles on the skin surface. This forces the hair to grow under the skin, sideways, and not outwards. One may experience inflammation leading to skin redness or darkening. It also may result in a bacterial infection or pus formation.
- Shaving, waxing, or plucking hair can also cause ingrown hair. Wrong shaving techniques, like shaving with a rusted razor, stretching the skin while shaving, and shaving against the hair direction can cause ingrown hair. Plucking or tweezing can irritate the skin, causing the hair to curl and clog the pore instead of growing outward. Even the strips used in waxing, if not pulled in the direction opposite to hair growth, can cause ingrown hair.
A single-blade razor is less aggressive to your skin and can prevent ingrown hair. You may use one for a gentle shave.
- Wearing tight clothes causes ingrown hair. This is especially true in summers or during a workout. The clothes rub against the skin and may cause ingrown hair.
Never scrape, poke, or prick ingrown hair. There are other ways to get rid of ingrown hair safely. We have discussed them below.
How To Get Rid Of Ingrown Hair Safely?
The most effective prevention method to treat ingrown hair is the laser hair removal procedure known as Laser Hair Reduction (LHR). Let us understand how you can get rid of those pesky ingrown hairs on your face, pubic areas, arms, and legs.
- Use A Warm Compress: Wet a clean washcloth with warm water and press it against your skin for two minutes. Gently rub the cloth in circular motions. Doing this twice a day can open up the clogged pores and reduce the chances of inflammation and bacterial infection.
- Use An Exfoliant: Apply a cream-based exfoliant (the exfoliating beads should not be too harsh) to your skin in gentle, circular motions. Wash the area with lukewarm water and pat dry. Repeat once a week as doing it daily can irritate the skin. You can also visit a clinic to use chemical exfoliants (peels) containing glycolic acid to remove the ingrown hairs.
Strigil, an instrument with a curved blade, was used by the ancient Romans and Greeks to exfoliate their skin.
- Use A Toner With Salicylic Acid: Using a toner with salicylic acid after exfoliation helps soothe your skin. The toner will help prevent pigmentation and reduce the risk of infection.
- Use A Tweezer: Sterilize the tweezer in boiling water. Rub the affected skin area with rubbing alcohol and gently tweeze out the hair. Avoid tweezing if the hair is embedded deep into the skin and needs constant digging. Digging into the skin may cause inflammation and hyperpigmentation. It also may open up the pore and allow bacteria and dirt to enter easily.
- Use A Needle: Be extra cautious while removing ingrown hair with a needle. Do not try this at home as there are high chances of secondary infection. Sterilize the needle first in boiling water. Rub the affected skin area with rubbing alcohol. Gently prick the area. If the gentle prick does not expose the ingrown hair, do not proceed. Soothe the skin for a couple of days with a warm compress. You can try with the needle again after two days, with caution.
These are the various ways you can get rid of ingrown hair at home. However, there can be situations warranting a visit to the doctor.
When To See A Dermatologist?
If you are worried about infecting or hurting yourself with any of the home-based methods, see a dermatologist. Dermatologists can help extract the pus-filled ingrown hair cysts without any risk of infection or wound. The skincare products a dermatologist recommends also help reduce any hyperpigmentation.
You can prevent ingrown hair with a few minor adjustments. We have discussed them below.
Tips For Preventing Ingrown Hair
- Avoid using a razor blade: Keep your hands off razor blades until the ingrown hair heals.
- Shave in the direction of the hair: Shaving against the direction of the hair can cut the shaft at an acute angle, leaving a sharp edge that irritates the skin around the follicle and makes way for the hair to grow in between the skin layers.
- Avoid tweezing too much: Tweezing out one or two ingrown hairs is alright. However, using tweezers too often to remove hair from your face, underarms, legs, or abdomen can open up the pores to dirt and bacteria.
- Use a warm shower: Showering in lukewarm water and gentle exfoliation before waxing or shaving can help. The warm water will soften the skin and make waxing or shaving easier.
- Use a new shaving blade: Avoid using the same shaving blade more than once.
- Use an astringent: Using an astringent after shaving or waxing will close the pores and prevent bacterial infections.
Infographic: 5 Ways To Get Rid Of Ingrown Hair
If you shave, wax, or tweeze your body hair, you are no stranger to ingrown hair and the resultant annoying bumps. Hence, it is best to remove it before the area gets itchy and infected. In the following infographic, we have listed a few easy ways to get rid of ingrown hair at home. Check them out.
An ingrown hair is a hair strand that grows back into the skin. This condition, known as folliculitis, can cause redness, inflammation, and small bumps on the skin. Ingrown hairs appear like razor bumps and can be painful and annoying. Hair removal methods like waxing, shaving, plucking the hair, wearing tight clothes, and dead skin may cause ingrown hair. Thankfully, you can reduce the growth of ingrown hair by following some simple tips. Using a warm compress, applying a cream-based exfoliant, or using a tweezer and toner are some effective ways to get rid of ingrown hair. You must also avoid the use of a razor blade, use an astringent, and avoid using the same blade more than once to prevent ingrown hair. If you are way too concerned, you can also consult with a dermatologist or a qualified professional for personalized advice and treatment options that best suit your needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will an ingrown hair go away by itself?
This depends on its severity. Mild to moderate cases of ingrown hair usually subside after a few days if the affected area is left undisturbed. But more severe cases may warrant medical intervention.
Can you pop out an ingrown hair?
It is not recommended to pop out an ingrown hair to avoid scarring or any chance of infection.
Does peroxide get rid of ingrown hairs?
Hydrogen peroxide works as an antiseptic. You can apply it before plucking out ingrown hair to prevent any chances of infection.
- Ingrown hair can sometimes cause infection, and there may be pus formation in it.
- Hair removal, tight clothes, and the build-up of dead cells are the major causes of ingrown hair.
- Using exfoliants, tweezers, and a warm compress can effectively remove ingrown hair.
- You can also consult a dermatologist if you find any pus-filled cysts around the ingrown hair.
Learn how to get rid of ingrown hair with easy tips and treatments. Check out the video to know how to get smooth skin without the irritation of ingrown hair.