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This is your ultimate guide to ingrown hair and how to remove it

Published on:20 April 2021, 16:28pm IST
The problem of ingrown hair is real, but what’s important to remember is the correct way to remove it, without falling prey to infections. Here’s all you need to know about it.
Dr T.N Rekha Singh
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ingrown hair
Ingrown hair can be safely removed using certain methods. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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Ingrown hair is a painful aftermath of incorrect hair removal that often leads to bumps, hyperpigmentation and secondary skin infections. An ingrown hair occurs when the hair shaft starts growing inward into the skin around the hair follicle, instead of growing outward and causes inflammation. 

This is a common skin condition that can occur anywhere on the body, but most commonly around the bikini line, eyebrows or underarms, legs in women and around the beard and neck area in men. Individuals with curly hair are more prone to having it, typically after improper, partial or aggressive hair removal, due to shaving, waxing, or tweezing. 

How to remove ingrown hairs? 

Ingrown hair may lead to painful or pus-filled skin infection, itching, scarring, discolouration, and sometimes even a noticeable scar formation. Ingrown hair is usually tough to eliminate and may take about a month easily.  In rare cases, ingrown hair may get stuck inside the skin, and take more than six months to go away. Therefore, it is essential to prevent it from occurring in the first place. However, here is your guide to getting rid of ingrowth safely for good, if you get them.

1. Avoid traditional hair removal methods

Stop using any age-old hair removal methods, particularly shaving, tweezing, or waxing in the affected area. Please resist the urge to remove it yourself, as it may lead to severe infection. If you are prone to getting ingrown hair or have sensitive skin, look for a permanent hair removal option to prevent the problem from recurring.

ingrown hair
Stop being old-school when it comes to hair removal. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
2. Visit a dermatologist

It’s best to see your dermatologist, and go for a thorough consultation to seek a safe solution for this skin concern. A dermatologist is likely to recommend appropriate treatment options, depending on the severity of the problem. It could be antibacterial creams to help reduce the inflammation and stimulate the healing process. If required, the dermatologist can do a standard in-clinic procedure of

3. Topical and oral medications

The doctor can also prescribe topical creams and oral antibiotics to accelerate the healing process and treat the secondary infection, if present. He/she may suggest topical tretinoin creams to decrease the build-up of dead cells, and cause thinning of the upper layers of dead skin to help the trapped hair find a way out to the surface. Topical corticosteroid creams help to reduce inflammation and itchiness.

ingrown hair
Opt for other safe laser options to get a hairless bikini line. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

In severe cases, you may require oral antibiotics along with ointments to reduce the pus formation and treat a secondary infection. Use of topical antiseptic gels or washes is also advisable to minimise infection-causing bacteria’s growth and control abscess formation. In the case of skin discolouration, the doctor may prescribe topical creams containing hydroquinone, kojic acid, and azelaic acid to visibly reduce the blemishes.

4. Exfoliating agents

Exfoliation is a popular treatment suggested for removing ingrown hair. There are many ways to exfoliate – using a scrub, dry brushing, and plant-based acids. Choosing a suitable exfoliation method depends on the area you want to address.
You can exfoliate using a gentle scrub for mild to moderate cases of ingrown hair. Dry brushing is an aggressive way to exfoliate larger areas of the body, and you must avoid it if you have sensitive skin or are prone to redness.

Controlled exfoliation using natural plant-based acids such as salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and lactic acid is an advanced aesthetic procedure performed by qualified dermatologists. The chemical peel treatment removes the outermost layer of dead cells and unclogs pores for attaining healthy skin.

ingrown hair
Use homely exfoliating agents to get rid of ingrown hair. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
5. Laser hair removal treatment

It is a permanent solution for the problem of ingrown hair, as it prevents their formation in the first place. Laser hair removal treatment is an advanced procedure that involves the focused use of a high-intensity laser beam to target the hair follicle and prevent it from producing new hair.

The procedure is fast, efficient and completely safe for permanent hair reduction all over the body. The treatment ensures you enjoy a permanent reduction of hair growth and silky soft skin for life, minus any discomfort and inconvenience. Since it destroys the hair follicles, it automatically alleviates the ingrowth problem to give you long-lasting satisfaction.

Dr T.N Rekha Singh Dr T.N Rekha Singh

Dr T.N Rekha Singh, Senior Consultant Dermatologist and the Training Head at Oliva Skin & Hair Clinic