Ingrown hairs are often difficult to prevent or get rid of. You may be trying to rid your skin of hair by shaving and waxing, only for some of it to curve into the skin when it grows back. When this happens, you may get inflamed, painful bumps on your skin.It also doesn’t help that you have at least 5 million hair follicles across your body, all of which have hair growing out of them and the potential to become ingrown.
What Causes Ingrown Hairs?
Ingrown hair is more common in people with thick and curly hair because the hair curves and can enter the skin. Thick ingrown hair is called pseudo-folliculitis, which often affects the face after shaving.Plucked hair that grows back through the follicle often turns before appearing above the skin’s surface. When hair turns back inside the follicle, it becomes clogged. The hair may grow sideways into the skin. If this happens in the outer layers of your skin, you may be able to see the hair growing just under the surface.Waxing also causes ingrown hairs because hairs often break below the skin’s surface when waxed. Ingrown hair due to waxing is more common around the bikini area.
Preventing Ingrown Hairs
It is possible to prevent ingrown hairs. Follow these simple steps to avoid pain and irritation when shaving, plucking, or waxing hair:
Stop Removing Hair Until the Ingrown Hair Is Gone
Shaving over ingrown hair will make it worse. Instead of continuing to remove hair in the area, place a warm compress over the skin. When the hair emerges after a few days, try to pluck it with tweezers. Doing this may help prevent recurring ingrown hairs.
Exfoliate Before Shaving
One of the best ways to prevent ingrown hairs is to exfoliate the skin before shaving. You can use exfoliating scrubs that contain alpha or beta hydroxy acids, which can help loosen the hair and make it less likely to become trapped during shaving.Always use a shaving gel or cream to keep your skin from getting irritated, which can block hair follicles and cause ingrown hairs. Shave in the same direction as the hair growth to prevent cutting the hair at sharp angles.
Consider Chemical Hair Removal
Many chemical hair removers, or depilatories, remove hair from the skin with active compounds of thioglycolic and thiolactic acids. There are several brands of chemical removers on the market, but if you have sensitive skin, this may not be the best option for you.
Moisturize Your Skin After Removing Hair
Apply a rich, hydrating lotion to your skin, especially areas prone to ingrown hairs, after shaving or waxing. You can use aloe vera or tea tree gel on waxed skin to help soothe it before applying lotion the next day.
How To Treat Ingrown Hairs
Ingrown hairs can correct themselves and break free from the skin as they grow. However, if the ingrown hair becomes stuck, it may cause pus to collect inside the follicle, which could cause an infection.If you notice an infection around ingrown hair, you may want to consult a dermatologist, who will prescribe treatment. Treatment options may include antibiotics and steroids.If you have a stubborn case of ingrown hair, you may want to consider electrolysis treatment or laser hair removal.
The Bottom Line
Ingrown hairs can be a pain to deal with, but by preparing and treating the skin before and after hair removal, you may be able to prevent them. For more information on ingrown hair prevention or expert treatment of existing ingrown hairs, contact Complete Family Dermatology at (402) 423-1111.