Almost everyone experiences an ingrown hair at some point in their life. An ingrown hair is a hair that has been blocked from coming up naturally from the skin. Instead, it curls back into your skin. These hairs cause irritation, itchiness and inflammation. They can also cause little pustules, similar to pimples. More severe cases can result in painful lesions, similar to a boil. When left untreated, an infection can occur, and a scar may form.

What causes ingrown hairs?

Ingrown hairs are caused by several factors. In women, they are most common on the legs, pubic area and under the arms. In men, they are most common on the chin, cheeks and neck. These ingrown hairs are usually caused by shaving. Close shaving causes the hair to not grow straight, it then gets caught by the skin, and turned around. Dead skin can trap hair under the surface, So it is important to wash and exfoliate regularly. People with coarse, or very curly hair are at the biggest risk of getting ingrown hairs. additionally, people with excess sex hormones are also more likely to experience this condition. Finally, people with thick, or coarse hair, such as African Americans, and Latinos, are likely to develop pseudofolliculitis, or razor bumps, due to the hair having a difficult time growing straight from the surface of the skin.

How can ingrown hairs be treated?

There are many ways to treat an ingrown hair, ranging from very simple, to more permanent solutions. A cold, damp towel, can help close the pores after a shave. Shaving with a new razor that is sharp and clean can reduce the risk of ingrown hair, because the hair has been cut cleanly, and neatly. Exfoliating scrubs can reduce dead skin cells, and allow the surface of the skin to easily pass hairs. Retin-A can further remove dead skin cells and help correct pigmentation that occurs from the ingrown hair. Antibiotics can be administered to fight infection and reduce swelling. A doctor can make small incisions with a sharp blade or needle that will allow the hair to free inteslf. Finally, a more permanent solution would be laser hair removal. By reducing the amount of hair in a region, a person is less likely to experience ingrown hair.

Overall, ingrown hair can be an annoying part of everyone’s lives. Fortunately they are rarely a medical issue, and can be resolved easily. Sometimes a hair follicle may become infected after the hair has become ingrown, and complications can arise. So, in the case of redness, swelling, pain, and pustules, it is important to see a dermatologist to be sure that the condition does not worsen.

* Results and your patient experience may vary