Ingrown hair may be distressing and an annoyance. Usually, they affect individuals with thick, curly hair, and if left unchecked, they will become infected. But how are they meant to be handled and should they be avoided?
Ingrown hair prevention may also be handled at home, but there are occasions when a doctor’s appointment might be necessary.
This article explores ways of handling and preventing incarnated hair to reduce discomfort for individuals who experience it.
What are ingrown hairs?
An ingrown hair is a hair that has curled back into the skin instead of growing out of the skin ‘s surface. It is most common in individuals with hair styles that are thick, coarse, or curly. Ingrown hair is known chemically as “pseudofolliculitis barbae.”
An ingrown hair can occur anywhere on the body. Ingrown hairs are typical in places where the skin is shaved or exposed to a great deal of friction, including:
- pubic area
Signs and symptoms of an ingrown hair are:
- itching skin or irritation surrounding the hair
- razor burn
The site of the ingrown hair will form into a raised bump on the skin that may begin to look like a pimple. Sometimes, the bump turns reddish, gets irritated and responsive, and can fill with pus.
What causes ingrown hairs?
Anything that does not let the hair grow normally can cause ingrown hairs, and it is usually for one of the following reasons:
Improper hair removal
An improper shaving technique is the most common cause of embedded hair. Cutting hair very close to the skin creates a very sharp tip on the end of each of the hairs.
Without a problem, the majority of these hairs will grow back out. Some hairs, however, are able to curl back on themselves and develop into the skin. When this happens , the body responds to the hair as if it were an intruder, causing inflammation, which is the typical symptom of an ingrown hair.
Shaving is not the only way to create incarnated hair. Ingrown hair is often usually caused by waxing and plucking hair out.
By means of the follicle, plucked hair grows back. As such, before turning and clogging the follicle, it may not make it all the way to the surface of the skin.
It is also possible for hair follicles to become clogged by:
- dead skin
- dirt and debris.
The hair in the follicle can get trapped or grow up into the skin when this occurs, causing an ingrown hair to develop. In certain instances, under the surface of the skin, hair can be seen developing.
Ingrown hair may also be caused by friction caused by wearing tight clothes for long periods of time.
The friction caused by body movement throughout the day can also rub hairs against the skin continuously. This causes the hair to turn around and push the follicle back in.
How to treat an ingrown hair at home
Ingrown hair is annoying, but can easily be handled at home most of the time.
Using a warm washcloth or soft toothbrush
If it is not an option to wait it out, there are other strategies that people might want to try. Hairs that have grown back into the follicle can be gently coaxed out using a warm washcloth and soft toothbrush.
Apply it to the grown hair after soaking a washcloth in warm water to warm and relieve the pores and follicles. Rubbing the washcloth can help uncurl the hair in a gentle circular motion.
Rubbing a very soft toothbrush in a similar motion over the area can help unclog the follicle and release the trapped hair if this does not work.
The first step in the treatment of incarnated hair is to avoid doing things that can irritate it. People may need to stop shaving, waxing, or plucking the area around the ingrown hair.
Also, scratching and itchy hair should be avoided. Individuals should also wear loose clothing to reduce friction in areas around the hair.
Such simple techniques are also adequate to make the ingrown hairs go away on their own. When a hair grows to about 10 millimeters in length, the follicle will normally release itself.
A sterile needle or tweezers can be used to pull the hair straight until some portion of the hair emerges above the skin line.
Do this only when the hair is above the surface. An infection can be caused by scratching into the skin to take the hair out.
It is also necessary not to pluck the hair out, as this increases the probability that as it grows back, the hair will be incarnated again. Before removing the hair again, the inflamed area surrounding the hair needs time to heal completely.
Use gentle soaps to clean areas around the ingrown hair and prevent infection. It can also help eliminate dead skin cells by using natural exfoliates around the scalp. Exfoliating also helps remove the skin around the hair that is inflamed and irritated.
Preventing ingrown hairs
Ingrown hairs are often unpleasant to deal with or become a usual problem. Some individuals avoid removing hair in the problem area entirely when this occurs.
Individuals who get ingrown hair from shaving on their necks can instead turn to trimming. Problematic pubic hairs can be cut short instead of removed entirely to help prevent ingrown hairs. In order to avoid these ingrown hairs, there are also a few products and treatments available.
However, people should see their doctor for other preventive steps if the condition is chronic. To decrease hair growth, these approaches may include intense pulse light therapy or prescription creams. Such preventive steps can help reduce the risk of deeper scarring and infections.
Over the counter products
There are also several items on the shelf that can help avoid or treat embedded hair.
It can help open the pores and follicles by using creams with salicylic acid, preventing them from clogging.
Some reports note that diluted tea tree essential oil may help ingrowing hairs by:
- killing bacteria
- reducing redness
- bringing down swelling
Some individuals frequently use homemade exfoliators to minimize their hair. To eliminate dead skin cells, such ingredients can be scrubbed into the skin. These products include:
- baking soda
Preparing for hair removal
Ingrown hair can also help prevent proper planning for hair removal. Clean the region thoroughly with a gentle soap prior to shaving. For pressure reduction, use a moisturizing shaving cream or gel.
Using a fresh razor while shaving, which can make exact cuts. Dull blades leave jagged cuts that may increase the risk of ingrown hairs. It can also be helpful to prevent a close shave.
Alternative options for hair removal
Many individuals turn to other methods to remove hair to prevent the hazards of hair that comes with shaving, waxing, or plucking. They include:
- Laser hair removal: This can be an expensive process, but the results are usually semi-permanent hair loss and no ingrown hairs. Laser hair removal damages the hair follicle at a deep level, preventing hair from growing at all.
- Chemical hair removal: These products are also an option for some.
- Electrolysis: This is another more permanent form of hair removal. It is designed to destroy the root of the hair and requires several sessions.
Any of these methods may irritate the skin and should be and discussed with a dermatologist before use.
When to see a doctor
In most cases, ingrown hairs are treated at home and do not require medical attention. There are a few times when there may be a need to involve a doctor.
If the ingrown hair becomes infected, the bumps may continue to grow and fill with more pus. They may be more agonizing, red, and upset than ever before. People who experience ingrown hair over large areas may require medical treatment as well.
If an ingrown hair becomes infected, the person may need to visit the doctor for treatment. Antibiotic ointments, steroid creams or medicated washes for use in the region can be administered by a doctor. A physician may refer a person to a skin specialist in serious cases.
Use topical therapy only in the affected region, as dry skin and other side effects can be caused. A physician can prescribe oral antibiotics for severe infections.
Ingrown hair is often not contaminated, but it is rather persistent. Doctors can prescribe retinoids in cases like these. Retinoids can help to more quickly remove dead skin cells than just washing and exfoliating. Retinoids don’t belong to everyone. Prior to use, any medical treatment choice should be explored with a physician or dermatologist.