If you’ve never experienced an ingrown hair, count yourself lucky. But the majority of the population has experienced it at least once in their lives.
Getting an ingrown hair can be annoying. And it seems like no one is immune to getting them. However, certain factors may increase your risk of getting them.
So, keep reading to find out what it is and how to get rid of an ingrown hair. Also, be sure to check out the tips to keep them from coming back.
What Is an Ingrown Hair?
An ingrown hair is a hair that grows back into the skin. It’s a common occurrence when you remove hair by shaving or with tweezers. When it does grow back under the skin, it can cause pain, inflammation, or bumps to appear in the area where you removed the hair.
Ingrown hairs typically occur when the hair structure and direction of growth are tampered with. For instance, shaving can create sharp edges in a curved hair follicle. When the hair starts to grow back, the sharp edge and curve encourage the hair to go back into the skin.
You may also be more prone to getting ingrown hairs if you pull your skin taut while shaving. Pulling the skin allows the newly cut hair to go back into the skin without growing out first.
Additionally, if you tweeze any area of your body, you may be at risk of frequent ingrown hairs. Because tweezing the hair doesn’t always take the entire hair follicle out, that fragment left under the skin surface can get inflamed.
Some common things to watch for if you think you have an ingrown hair include:
- Embedded hairs
- Hyperpigmentation, or skin darkening
- Bumps, either small and solid or blister-like and pus-filled
You can get ingrown hair anywhere you use hair removal. But some of the most common areas include:
- Pubic area
According to experts, though, one of the main risk factors is having tightly curled hair.
They are also more likely to occur in areas that encounter a lot of friction.
How to Treat an Ingrown Hair
Ingrown hairs can be irritating. But most of the time, an ingrown hair will go away on its own without treatment.
You can also try the following home remedies to encourage ingrown hairs to release:
First, you can try washing and gently exfoliating the affected area. Try using a washcloth or soft-bristled toothbrush and exfoliate in a circular motion for a few minutes.
Use this method before bed or before you shave to prevent more ingrown hairs. Exfoliation can help remove dead skin cells and encourage trapped hair to release from the skin.
Next, you can also try a sterile needle. But this method may not be for the faint of heart.
First, prepare your skin by holding a warm, wet washcloth over the ingrown hair for about a minute. Doing so may help open up the hair follicle and drain it.
Using a sterilized needle, insert it under the hair loops and gently lift the ingrown hair tip. You may have to tease the hair to show itself on the surface.
When you can see the entire hair, use a pair of sterilized tweezers and grab the hair at the base. Pull up firmly to remove the hair.
In addition, you can also bypass the needle and use a pair of tweezers to remove the hair. However, you need to be able to see the hair to grab it at the base.
If the hair is under the skin, avoid picking at it or you may get an infection.
Ingrown Hair Prevention
Now that you know how to get rid of an ingrown hair, it’s time to get some tips about how to prevent them. One of the best ways to prevent ingrown hairs is to avoid hair removal practices that cause them in the first place. That includes shaving, waxing, and tweezing.
However, if that is not an option, try some of these tips to lower your risk of ingrown hairs:
- Soften the hair before shaving with a warm compress or shaving cream/gel
- Wash your skin with a mild facial cleanser before shaving
- Don’t use dull razors
- Avoid pulling your skin taut when you shave
- Shave with, not against, the grain
- Don’t do close shaves
- After every stroke, remember to rinse the blade
- Rinse and moisturize your skin after shaving
- Use a dry brush to get rid of dead skin cells
Alternative Hair Removal Methods
If you absolutely have to remove hair from your body, you may want to check out these alternative methods.
Electric Clipper or Razor
Going to the barber to get a close shave may be all the rage, but at home opt for some modern conveniences. Use an electric razor or clipper to remove hair.
Furthermore, avoid close shaves when you use electric razors by not using the closest shave setting. Also, try to keep the clipper or razor slightly away from your skin when shaving.
Chemical Hair Removers
You’ve probably seen these depilatories at your local drug store. These chemicals may remove your hair without risk of getting ingrown hairs. But they may also irritate your skin.
Try it on a small patch of skin to test your sensitivity first.
Creams That Decrease Hair Growth and Laser Therapy
Lastly, you may want to consider using a cream that decreases hair growth. A prescription cream combined with another method, like laser therapy, may decrease the need for hair removal methods.
Ingrown hairs can be a pain. But most of the time you don’t have to do anything because they go away on their own.
If, however, you can see the ingrown hair above the surface of the skin, you can try one of the home remedies listed. Additionally, if you shave, tweeze, or wax regularly, be sure to try some of the ingrown hair prevention tips.
You may not be able to stop ingrown hairs completely, but you can limit the risk. And stop those unsightly bumps from appearing on your body.