You notice strange bumps appearing on your face. But they are not pimples. The only other logical explanation is that they are ingrown hairs. Now, ingrown hairs are not a serious condition. But they can be irritating and embarrassing.
They form when dead skin cells clog up your hair follicles. Because of that, the hair grows sideways under the skin, not upward and outward.
The good news is that with a couple of lifestyle changes, you can easily learn how to prevent ingrown hairs. And of course, there are ways for treating them as well.
How do ingrown hairs look like?
As mentioned previously, ingrown hairs can remind you of pimples. They irritate the skin and produce a raised red bump. Sometimes, they can produce a group of bumps that look exactly like little pimples.
In some cases, ingrown hairs also form a painful and boil-like sore.
When you have a lot of ingrown hairs on your face, they feel itchy and uncomfortable. There is pus inside the bumps.
Ingrown hairs can appear in both men and women. In men, they pop up as a bunch of little bumps on the chin, cheeks, and neck, and appear usually after shaving. In women, on the other hand, ingrown hairs are more common on the legs, armpits, and the public area.
You can also get ingrown hairs on your buttocks.
What is causing ingrown hairs?
Anyone can get an ingrown hair. There is no escaping that. However, they are more common in people with coarse or curly hair. When you have curly hair, the chances are higher than your hair will bend back and re-enter the skin, and that happens more often after shaving or cutting.
People with high levels of certain sex hormones have excessive hair growth, which makes them more prone to ingrown hairs.
African-Americans, Latinos, and people with curly hair also develop a type of ingrown hair that is commonly known as razor bumps. They are more likely to appear on the beard area after shaving, waxing, or tweezing.
What is the treatment for an ingrown hair?
In most cases, ingrown hairs go away on their own. But if it doesn’t go away, it can become infected, and darken your skin. Ingrown hairs can also leave behind a scar, especially if you are scratching it.
There are medical, over the counter, and home treatment options for ingrown hairs.
Let’s start with the traditional treatment options first:
- Your doctor can prescribe steroid medicine that you can rub on your skin to reduce swelling
- Retinoids can be used to remove dead skin cells and skin pigment that is clogging your hair follicles and causing ingrown hairs
- In some cases, doctors prescribe antibiotics, but instead of ingesting, you rub them onto your skin to prevent infection
- Exfoliating with salicylic or glycolic acid is another over the counter treatment, as these products unclog your hair follicles and keep them open
- Benzoyl peroxide cream is an over the counter treatment that helps with acne, razor bumps, and ingrown hairs
If you want a more natural treatment, you can try home remedies for ingrown hair. All of these include natural exfoliators that help you get rid of dead skin cells clogging your hair follicles.
- For example, tea tree oil can be used to eliminate bacteria in your skin, and reduce swelling. It works as a spot treatment on acne but can be used on ingrown hair as well. Just mix it with water or a carrier oil to dilute the oil, and then apply on the spot using a cotton ball
- Sugar is one of the best natural exfoliators. Mix it with olive oil or honey, as it will provide moisture and exfoliation for your skin. Apply in a circular motion, and then rinse with warm water
- Baking soda is the most common natural remedy for skin problems you have in your kitchen. Mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda and 1 cup of water to create a paste that will exfoliate your skin and reduce inflammation
Can you prevent ingrown hair?
The best treatment for any skin problem is prevention. And that applies to how to prevent ingrown hairs as well.
Here are a couple of pieces of advice you should follow for how to prevent ingrown hairs.
- Rub your face in a circular motion with an exfoliating scrub on a daily basis
- Always use a sharp and single-bladed razor to shave
- Before shaving, make sure to apply lubricating gel on your face and wet your skin with warm water
- Shave in the same direction hair is growing
- When shaving, use as few strokes of the razor as possible
- After every stroke, rinse the blade of your razor
- If your razor is old and used several times, replace it, as dull blades do not make a clean and precise cut
- When using an electric razor, hold it slightly above the surface of your skin
- When using a regular razor, do not shave too closely to the skin, as you want to leave a little bit of stubble
- After you are done with shaving, apply a cool washcloth to your skin to reduce irritation
- Consider other hair removing methods as alternatives to shaving
What if your ingrown hairs are infected?
If your ingrown hairs get infected, the bumps will be painful and filled with pus. In this case, you need to treat the infection first, and possibly see a doctor.
A physician will prescribe you some antibiotic ointment or wash to handle the infection. And if the infection is severe, you might even have to take an antibiotic orally
What to avoid if you have public hairs?
When you have ingrown public hairs, try to avoid the following actions:
- Do not pull or pick at the ingrown hair as it can cause an infection
- Do not squeeze the bumps, as popping can cause an infection and leave a scar behind
- Avoid digging under the skin. If you absolutely have to try to remove the hair, do it gently
Should you visit a doctor?
Every now and then, ingrown hairs appear and happen. There is no running away from that. And they should not be a cause of panic. You should not go to a doctor’s office every time you have ingrown hairs. Just try to follow the guidelines of how to prevent ingrown hairs.
However, if you often get ingrown public hairs, you should talk a professional to find a treatment and prevent future problems. And if you have too much public hair, you should also talk with a doctor. There might be some health issues causing your ingrown public hairs.