Having any kind of problems or health issues in one’s privates can certainly be unsettling. Aside from the embarrassment and inconvenience, problems in the genital area can also have serious repercussions on your health.
Ingrown pubic hair is among the most common problems a woman can experience. Usually, it is completely harmless, though it can be painful and hard to get rid of in some cases. Also, ingrown hairs can cause serious complications if they become infected. Sometimes, they might even look like a herpes breakout.
Just discovered some ingrown hair on vagina? What to do? Read on to find out more about the causes and treatment methods, how to tell ingrown hair from herpes, and how to prevent the problem from reoccurring.
Ingrown Pubic Hair 101
Ingrown pubic hair shows up as pustules or papules. Pustules are pus-filled red bumps, while papules are small red bumps without the pus. Sometimes, the skin surrounding the area might grow darker as a result. This condition is called hyperpigmentation.
Itching is one of the most common symptoms associated with ingrown pubic hair. You may also experience redness, swelling, and pain.
Ingrown pubic hair (similar to ingrown hair on other parts of the body) is the result of the hair turning back and growing under the skin, instead of through the skin. When that happens, your body treats the ingrown hair as an alien object and that’s how the papules and pustules come about.
Sometimes, the ingrown hair might get infected and further complicate the matter. If it’s infected, the bump will grow and become filled with pus.
Women with coarse or particularly curly hair run a higher risk of ingrown pubic hair. Also, shaving or waxing is more likely to cause the hair to grow beneath the skin than other hair removal methods.
Ingrown Hair or Herpes
Sometimes, ingrown pubic hair can be hard to tell from a herpes breakout. This can put even more stress on an already stressful situation. Here’s how to tell ingrown hair from herpes.
- Herpes. Herpes is caused by one of two types of the herpes simplex virus – HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV-2 is currently more prevalent, found in around 20% of adult Americans, where a majority of the cases are dormant and the carriers even aware of having the virus. If not, the most common symptoms include very small bumps (typically less than 2mm), yellow discharge, headache, tenderness, repeated outbreaks, and cluster outbreaks. HSV-2 is transmitted through sexual contact, while HSV-1 can be transmitted through kissing, as well. There is no cure for herpes at the moment of this writing, though various treatments exist.
- Ingrown hair. The main differences would be the lack of fever and headache, as ingrown hair doesn’t affect your immune system. Also, any pus would be white in color. Ingrown hair mostly shows up as single sores, while herpes is prone to cluster outbreaks.
If you have an ingrown hair on vagina, “what to do about it” is the most logical question that can pop into your mind. Luckily, ingrown hair in the pubic area (and other areas, as well) typically clears up without a need for any treatment. In case the hair doesn’t start growing through the skin on its own, there are several things you can try.
- Pull the hair out gently. When the ingrown hair appears above the skin, you can use a pair of sterile tweezers to gently pull it. Make sure not to pull it out completely, as that will result in the skin closing up over the remaining portion of the hair beneath the surface.
- Stop shaving and waxing. It is recommended to refrain from all types of hair removal in the affected area until the problem is solved to prevent irritation, infection, and other complications.
- Get rid of dead skin. You can also try gently washing and exfoliating the affected area to remove the dead skin cells.
- Topical creams. In the case of severe inflammation and excessive redness, your doctor might prescribe a steroid cream to relieve the irritation and swelling.
- Retinoid treatment. You can’t buy retinoids over the counter. They’ll have to be prescribed by your healthcare provider. They can help with the dead cells and discolored patches around the affected area. Retinoids are not recommended for pregnant women, as they may be very harmful to unborn babies.
Home Remedies for Ingrown Pubic Hairs
There’s also a wide range of home and OTC remedies and methods that you can try. It is advisable to consult your doctor before trying any of these.
You can use baking soda for exfoliation of the affected area. It can also help with the inflammation. You should pour 1 tbsp of baking soda into a glass of water and apply the mixture to the affected area. Wash it off with only water.
Mix table sugar with honey or olive oil to make an exfoliation paste. Apply the paste to the affected area and wash it with water afterward. The sugar/honey and sugar/olive oil mixtures will help get rid of the bacteria and moisturize your skin.
Tea Tree Oil
If you opt for tea tree oil, make sure to mix it with water before application. Use it to treat the swelling and get rid of the bacteria.
Exfoliation with Glycolic and Salicylic Acid
Both options can open the pores in your skin and prevent ingrown hairs from reoccurring. However, it is not wise to use these before you solve the problem, as they’ll only irritate the already inflamed skin.
One of the best things you can do if you have an ingrown pubic hair is to remove the dead skin cells. Using a water-based moisturizer can help you do it with minimum discomfort.
Benzoyl Peroxide Cream
This chemical is often found in acne creams and lotions. It dries up the skin and can help you minimize redness around the ingrown hair.
Treatment Methods for Infected Ingrown Hairs
The first thing to do if you notice signs of infection is to go and see your doctor. You will most likely be prescribed antibiotics that you’ll apply locally (to the affected area). If the treatment fails, oral antibiotics might be in order.
The most common symptoms include itching, swelling, redness, irritation, and warmth.
To prevent further problems with ingrown hair in the pubic area, you might want to use shaving creams or gels before shaving. If shaving’s your preferred method, consider switching to a single-blade razor. Also, change your blade or razor regularly.
You can also try removing pubic hair with creams instead of razors. The other alternative methods include tweezing and waxing. Finally, there’s also laser hair removal.
Anyhow, if the ingrown hair doesn’t clear up on its own or becomes infected, you should contact your doctor. And likewise if the problem occurs frequently.