An ingrown hair occurs when a small hair grows under the skin. The tip of the hair grows sideways into the hair follicles and causes irritation and inflammation in the skin. Ingrown hair is common and usually results after removing hair from tweezers, razors, or wax. The ingrown hair usually appears on the face, underarms, buttocks, pubic area, and legs. Usually, ingrown hair improves without the need of any treatment and can be avoided by not removing hair.
Even though, ingrown hair can occur in anyone – it is most common in those individuals who have coarse or curly hair and belong to African-American and Hispanic ethnicity. When a person shaves or tweezes the unwanted hair, the tip of the hair is left close to the skin’s surface causing it to curl back or grow sideways which result in the irritation of the skin. Improper shaving techniques increase a person’s chances of developing ingrown hair.
Symptoms of ingrown hairs:
• Small and rounded bumps
• Pus-filled lesions similar to blisters
• Pigmentation (darkening) on skin
• Embedded hair
Ingrown hair is commonly visible on the beard area of males. It is usually seen on the armpits, bikini area and legs of females.
Should you see a doctor?
An occasional ingrown hair is usually nothing to worry about. But if you find your ingrown hair in a chronic condition especially women who are suffering from excessive hair growth, then its best to see a doctor who can diagnose if the unwanted hair is due to hormonal abnormalities.
There are various ways to treat ingrown hair. Some conditions of ingrown hair improve naturally. But many times the ingrown hair can become infected and require treatment. Ingrown hair can also cause skin discoloration and even permanent scars on the skin.
Treatment for ingrown hair includes:
• A doctor using a sterile needle to extract the ingrown hair.
• Topical steroid cream to minimize the inflammation.
• Topical retinoid cream to thin the layer of skin.
• Antibiotics to reduce the infection.
Home remedies can also be tried to improve the condition of ingrown hair. Washing and gently rubbing the affected area with a warm washcloth also helps to minimize ingrown hair. Exfoliating scrubs also allows hair to start growing inward and help remove the dead skin cells.
To prevent the development of ingrown hair, avoid shaving, tweezing, and waxing unwanted hair and allow the facial and body hair to grow naturally. If you shave to remove unwanted hair, always wet the skin and shave in the direction of hair growth. It is also recommendable to apply a cool washcloth on the shaved area after the process is completed.
There are many people who are more prone to ingrown hair than others. Follow the preventive measures and if the condition does not improve, then consult your doctor.