Rid Yourself of Ingrown Hairs
Everyone who has waxed or shaved in their lifetimes has experienced the annoyance of ingrown hairs. The resulting red, itchy spots can be itchy as well as occasionally turning into a whitehead. An ingrown hair typically occurs when the hair follicle also becomes clogged with dead skin cells.
What Are Ingrown Hairs?
Ingrown hairs occur when hair regenerates and curls back into the skin rather than exiting the dermis. Such hair develops when a shaved, tweezed or waxed hair grows back finer than before.
When an ingrown hair grows, you may see small, round bumps—known as papules—or small, pus-filled bumps—pustules—develop. Sometimes, the skin surrounding the ingrown hair may become noticeably darker. This is called hyperpigmentation. (Read our full resource page on hyperpigmentation for more details.)
The area may also be painful or itchy. Our hairs are unique to each of us—the density, coarseness, colour, and regrowth rate varies for each individual. Anyone can develop ingrown hairs, but they can be more of a problem for those with coarse or curly hair.
Causes of Ingrown Hairs
The direction of growth and hair play have a role in ingrown hairs. A curved hair follicle, one which generates tightly curled hair, is believed to prompt the hair to grow back into the skin once the hair is cut and starts to grow back. Shaving cuts a sharp edge on this type of hair, particularly if the hair is dry during shaving.
You can also get ingrown hairs if you:
· Pull your skin tight during shaving: Which means the cut hair draws back into the skin and re-enters the follicle without growing out properly first.
· Tweeze: Which can leave a fragment of hair underneath the skin surface.
When a hair remains in the follicle, your skin reacts like it’s a foreign body, so it becomes inflamed.
Why Do Ingrown Hairs Develop?
Ingrown hairs have typically usually grown out of the follicle, but not been able to exit the dermis layer, so they've curled around and stayed trapped—without even exiting the skin. Some hairs have exited and curled back into the skin.
When follicles are clogged, the hair inside it is forced to grow sideways. This is even more likely to happen if the hair is particularly curly, coarse or recently plucked.
Ingrown hairs can be a major issue on the body in areas where people shave. In men, ingrown hairs commonly appear in the beard area, on the chin and cheeks and, typically, the neck. They can also appear on the scalp in those who shave their heads. For women, ingrown hairs appear on these areas: legs, armpits, and the bikini line.
Ingrown hairs look like pustules or pimples on the skin, and typically you can see the hair trapped in the spot which can be filled with pus.
Usually, ingrown hairs can improve without treatment. It’s possible to avoid ingrown hairs by not removing hair in the first place. But for many of us, that's not an option. In which case, there are hair removal methods that lessen the risk of ingrown hairs from developing.
Signs and Symptoms of Ingrown Hairs
Signs and symptoms of ingrown hairs include:
· Hard, little, rounded bumps (papules)
· Little, pus-filled, blister-like lesions (pustules)
· Embedded hairs
· Skin darkening (hyperpigmentation)
The odd ingrown hair is not a cause for alarm, but if you are experiencing chronic conditions then it’s possible to treat it with an experienced dermatologist.
A chronic condition of ingrown hairs can
· Bacterial infection (caused by scratching)
· Skin darkening
· Keloid or permanent scarring
· Pseudofolliculitis barbae, also
called razor bumps