Here’s the best way to handle ingrown hair on your body

As you shave your skin, you seek for a smooth look. After some days, your skin ends up looking spotted with ingrown hair. Here’s how to get rid of them!
Ingrown hair can be annoying. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Dr Shilpi Behl Published on: 16 January 2022, 13:30 pm IST
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You shave hoping for silky smooth skin, but alas! The next thing you notice is not the glossy look but the little red bumps appearing to ruin your look! Don’t mistake these red bumps for acne. They are the ingrown hair that grows back into your skin instead of growing out! The good news is that ingrown hair is not unavoidable. They can be the annoying side effects of hair removal.

Read further as we present some tips to prevent, recognize and manage ingrown hair whenever and wherever they appear!

To shave or not to shave? Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Here’s how you get ingrown hair:

When you remove hair from any part of your body, it sometimes starts growing in a crooked way or back into the skin. Sometimes, dead skin can clog a hair follicle. That forces the hair to grow sideways under your skin, rather than up and out. Or if you cut naturally curly hair too short, the sharpened end of the hair can pierce your skin, causing an ingrown hair.

This creates a little red bump, sometimes inflammation or looks like acne with a head filled with pus. The only difference is you can see the dark hair inside the bump.

How do you know when you have a hair under your skin?

If you develop ingrown hair, you may notice:

  1. Itchiness
  2. Skin irritation
  3. A little raised red bump that looks like a pimple
  4. A boil-like sore
  5. Discomfort

Common areas where hair can grow in reverse:

They are likely to appear in the areas where you shave, including your:

  1. Face and neck
  2. Scalp
  3. Legs
  4. Armpits
  5. Chest
  6. Back
  7. Pubic hair

What can cause ingrown hair?

Several products in the market and many skin practices can be held responsible for ingrown hair.

  1. Skin products that clog pores like deodorants, shaving blades with soaps or built-in conditioning strips
  2. Waxing can sometimes causes skin irritation and inflammation
  3. Shaving or tweezing dark and coarse hair
  4. Improper shaving techniques
  5. Wearing skin-hugging or tight clothes
  6. Natural occurrence when skin debris blocks the hair follicle
Hair removal can also cause ingrown hair. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Can ingrown hair cause complications?

Yes, you heard it right! Often, an ingrown hair goes away on its own. But if it doesn’t, you could have:

  1. An infection
  2. Darkened skin
  3. Scarring

Doctors believe that ingrown hair are likely to develop pilonidal cysts. These pockets of hair and skin debris usually happen at the base of your tailbone, between your buttocks. They can be swollen and painful and might need surgery to be treated.

What happens when you try to pull it out?

Do not ever try to pull out ingrown hair because if the follicle is filled with pus, you may develop infection. You just need to keep the area clean and refrain from waxing or shaving until the area clears up. If you notice recurrence, hyperpigmentation or dark skin, consult a skincare expert for treatment.

Forget ingrown hair with these tips! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

What can be done to avoid ingrown hair?

There are a few things that you can do to keep this problem at bay:

  1. Shave with proper techniques and a single blade on a clean and dry skin. You can try derma-blading, which is a mini peel that exfoliates the top layer of your skin.
  2. Steam hair follicles in the shower to open them up before shaving.
  3. Exfoliate and reduce oil with products like salicylic acid or beta hydroxyls to clear pores and help remove dead skin cells.
  4. Use retinoids to remove dead skin cells and reduce skin pigmentation.
  5. If the area is infected, topical antibiotics can be used for relief.

Some in-clinic treatments for severe conditions caused by ingrown hair:

  1. In case of recurrence and frequent infections, it is advisable to consult the skincare expert for a permanent solution.
  2. Laser hair removal may be an option for preventing this problem. Laser treatments applied to an area help to permanently decrease the number of hairs. Currently, laser removal works primarily on dark hairs only. Laser hair removal is generally very fast, efficient, and safe.
  3. Electrolysis is also a permanent hair removal option that targets individual hair follicles that work on any skin type, color and hair. This treatment is slow and requires multiple sessions.

About the Author
Dr Shilpi Behl

Facial Aesthetics and Skincare expert

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