By definition, an ingrown hair is a hair that curls and starts growing back into the skin instead of out. It’s a common occurrence after shaving, waxing, or plucking. Besides being downright irritating, ingrown hair can be painful and cause mild inflammation.
This annoying skin/hair condition affects both men and women and can appear in any part of the body. In most cases, ingrown hairs get better on their own and require little to no treatment. The best way of prevention is to not remove any hair, but before that, humankind may need an attitude adjustment regarding the desirability of having more hair than less.
Until that day arrives, ingrown hair is likely to appear on your face and body. Luckily, there are a few things that you can do to deal with this problem – keep reading for the tried-and-tested methods.
How to Get Rid of Ingrown Hair
The following methods can be applied to any ingrown hair regardless of the body part. You should be able to quickly remove the hair on your own, but if it becomes a chronic condition, you may want to consult a dermatologist.
Other than that, feel free to give some of the following methods a try.
Leave It Be
First, you should give the hair some time to find its way out and penetrate through your skin. A week or so is usually enough for it to grow out. While waiting for the hair to pop up, you should refrain from scratching and picking the area. Also refrain from shaving since it can damage the ingrown hair surface and make it worse or cause infection.
This is particularly so for sensitive areas like pubes and armpits. Just be patient and try to wait it out, before moving onto other methods.
Besides getting rid of ingrown hair, regular exfoliation may also prevent it from reappearing. It removes dead cells from the top skin layer, which keeps your pores open and allows the hair to grow out faster.
However, to successfully exfoliate, you need to know your skin type. There are two different kinds of exfoliation, chemical and mechanical, and your skin may react better to one than the other.
For example, people with sensitive skin usually benefit from a mild exfoliating cream or lotion and a washcloth. On the other hand, those who have thick oily skin may consider more potent chemical treatment and mechanical exfoliation.
Try to Break Down the Ingrown Hair
If you can already see the red bump on your skin, you should try to gently break it down. It doesn’t mean attempting to pop the ingrown hair by any means, but quite the contrary.
While showering, carefully massage the area with a mitt and tap dry it afterward. Apply a salicylic acid-based cream onto the affected area and repeat the process in the morning and evening.
Suitable for most skin types, salicylic acid dissolves the dead skin cells which prevent normal hair growth. You just need to be patient as it can take up to five days for this method to take effect.
It is also advisable to add a cortisone cream. Cortisone constricts blood vessels, resulting in reduced swelling, redness, and pain. You only have to apply it once after the salicylic acid cream has dried.
Use a Warm Washcloth
This method should work great if you are able to see the hair under your skin. It makes your skin and hair softer, opens up the pores, and allows the hair to come up to the surface.
Wring the washcloth after you soak it in hot water and press the cloth over the ingrown hair. Repeat the process when the washcloth cools down. A few tries and the hair may just appear on the surface.
Remove the Ingrown Hair Mechanically
It is also possible to pull the hair out of your skin. You need a pair of steady hands, sterile needle, and tweezers. However, this method shouldn’t be used on areas with sensitive skin, such as the face, since there is some risk of infection.
Use the sterile needle to slowly coerce the hair out of your skin. Take your time in this step since you want to avoid cuts and other skin damage. Once you see the top of the hair, grab the tweezers and carefully pull the hair out, but don’t pluck it. You just want to get the ingrown section out.
If the ingrown hair loops around, try to fit the needle through the loop and carefully pull it out until you see the top of the hair.
Cleaning the area and applying some soothing cream is recommended after you’re done with this method.
How to Prevent Ingrown Hair
By now, you should have a more complete understanding of how to get rid of ingrown hair. Nevertheless, there are still things that you can do to minimize the chances of developing them in the first place.
Use a moisturizing soap and warm water on the areas that you shave often. Also, don’t forget to wet your skin before you start shaving since there is a greater risk of ingrown hair if the area is dry. There are pre-shaving skin cleansers and shaving creams that you can use to prepare your skin for shaving.
Choosing the right kind of shaver is also important for women as well as men. Cheap disposable razors might work for some, but more expensive razors usually translate to better skin protection. In addition, always shave with the grain of your hair. Going against the grain gets you a closer shave at the cost of increasing the risk of ingrown hair.
On the other hand, if you struggle with ingrown hair after waxing, exfoliation is usually the best way to minimize the risk.
The Final Pluck
How to get rid of ingrown hair? Well, as you can see, the methods are quite easy. You need to develop a proper skin care routine and be patient with this skin condition.
Nevertheless, some people may want to consider more permanent hair removal options like laser and chemical treatments. There is no risk of ingrown hair but these treatments are not suitable for all body parts and perhaps sensitive skin.