Ingrown Armpit Hair : Causes, Symptoms and Removal

In summary, this article covers what causes ingrown hair in the armpits with suggestions as to the best remedies, prevention, and ways to remove them….. or whether to just leave them alone! Also, learn how to tell a cyst from a bump in the underarm region.

Ingrown armpit hair can be painful and the bumps or lumps caused by them can be unsightly. In severe cases, or if the hair follicle becomes infected, you may end up with scarring after it is removed or healed up. Then, on the other hand, you may have an ingrown armpit hair/s that you are not even aware of

Read on to find information to\hat may help you treat and / or remove them at home.

But first, a little on how to recognize an ingrown armpit hair by its appearance, and the symptoms. A mirror will be handy here – unless you have a rubber neck!

Appearance of Ingrown Hairs

A lump or bump in your underarm is most likely ingrown hair. There are times when it could be a cyst, or in rare cases a sign of something far more serious. A few snaps of what these bumps can look like in the armpit.

Ingrown armpit hair

Causes of Ingrown Armpit Hair

Ingrown hair occurs when a hair that typically grows outward from the hair follicle fails to penetrate through the skin to emerge out into the big wide world. Instead, it grows inwards into the skin. This causes irritation to the skin and results in the skin being formed into bumps, lumps to varying degrees. When either the skin around the hair becomes infected, or when the actual hair follicle is infected, pustules will form.

So there are two conditions that may present here. Where fluid-filled bumps are caused by a hair being trapped under the skin. in medical terms, this condition is known as pseudofolliculitis barbae (PFB or razor bumps). This is more likely to affect people with skin of color. You can find some research on this at The good news is it doesnt usually appear in the armpit area. Where it is the actual hair follicle that is affected, in medical terms it is known as folliculitis. Whilst Pseudofolliculitis is similar to folliculitis, it doesn’t involve the hair follical itself …. the two conditions may present a similar appearance however.

Folliculitis can occur in different parts of the body as we have hair follicles everywhere! Most people however tend to them in the groin or pubic area, armpits, legs, and face. They may also go under different names, like razor bumps, that often occur in men who shave their facial hairs. In women, they occur in the armpits and bikini area often.

While they may show up in different parts of the body, ingrown hairs have more or less the same causes, but,since we are focusing on ingrown armpit hair, lets stick to that !

Common Causes

The following could cause to armpit hair forming in your armpits.

1. Having Curly Hair

You may be genetically predisposed to getting this issue in your underarm if you have naturally very curly and coarse hair. Asian, Latino and people of Afro / Caribbean descent get this issue more often than people with straighter, finer hair types. The more tightly your hair curls, the more likely you are to get inward growing hairs in your armpits – particularly after shaving.

Before you throw a party cos you feel so lucky that you do not have curly hair, be aware that there are exceptions and other causes are more inclusive of everyone!

2. Shaving and other Hair Removal methods.

Shaving against the direction of natural hair growth could cause the new growing hair to turn inwards and get caught under the skin, becoming ingrown. Using blunt, old razors is also a causal factor as they do not cut the hair cleanly, instead, leaving the hair end somewhat roughened. May also cause hair to lose its natural direction whilst growing back, and becoming ingrown. Some studies have indicated that shaving too closely could also increase the likelyhood of ingrown armpit hair.

Using a ‘brutal’ removal methods like waxing which rips out the hair from the root may cause the new one that regrows to change direction. If this happens, you know what can occur!.

3. Clogged Pores

If your pores, through which the new hair grows out through is clogged, it makes life much more difficult for the emerging new hair. As a result, it may turn inwards / sideways and grow under the skin …. becoming an ingrown hair that can potentially become painful. Dirt and sebum build up in the pores can cause the pore blockage, as well as makeup, deodorants and other cosmetic products can also contribute to clogging your poor pores.

Tight, clingy clothing – like gym lycra may also cause hairs in your armpits to become ingrown.


How do you know you have ingrown armpit hair? Sometimes this problem or pseudofolliculitis will give you give you large bumps or pimples with an abscess.

Other times you will just see a rash in the affected area. You may notice it as a dark spot in a pimple if you have dark hair. If the area around is infected, one is likely to see some liquid inside the lump, making it appear white or yellow or red much like an acne zit.

Sometimes it will leave you with a hard lump, what some refer to as an ingrown hair cyst. More often than not these bumps are painful to touch and may also cause painful swollen lymph nodes in the armpit.

You may also feel some itching, or tingle at the point where the hair is growing into your skin as opposed to out of. The swelling or bumps are one of the most common signs though.

Removing – extraction at home and other remedies.

You can remove an ingrowing armpit hair and give yourself some relief. Basically, if the offending strand is removed, or dislodged from under the skin, the other discomfort that comes with it namely the pain itching and pus formation dramatically reduces or goes away completely. This is if there was no infection in which case the area might take a little longer to heal.

Sometimes, the infection might develop after the hair has been extracted, in the part of the skin that has been broken into. But this can be avoided by taking good care of the area you have removed it in your armpits and using sterile tools.

While it is perfectly safe to pull out it with a pair of tweezers or a sterilized needle, it is not advisable to dig into your skin to remove deep ingrown hairs in your armpit.

You may need to see a doctor in severe cases, especially if it is getting infected. Also if it is buried very deep into the skin, minor surgery, may be the only treatment for your ingrown armpit hair. A doctor may also recommend some anti-bacterial, or antibiotic treatment, topical and oral if a serious infection is involved.

With hair you can see the tip, or at least which you do not have to dig into your skin to get to, you can try removing it at home.

How to remove it

In some cases, the best solution for ingrown armpit hair is actually no solution. It should be left alone will sometimes self-dislodge and heal on their own.  If it bothering you though, you can get rid of that bothersome ingrown hair bump with this easy method.

Wash your armpits and apply a warm compress to the affected parts.

The best way to remove it would be to nudge the loop or tip if it is visible avoiding excising to the swollen skin around. Disinfect a pair of sharp tweezers or needle with rubbing alcohol and use this instrument to gently ease it out from the bump in your armpit.

You can apply an antibiotic cream to prevent infection or use a disinfectant diluted in water.

Also if itching from it is what is driving you crazy, a hydrocortisone cream may give you relief.

In case you remove it and it leaves a hole that takes long to or won’t heal, please see a doctor.

Home remedies

Actually, most remedies that will help get rid of ingrown hair anywhere else on your body will also work for your armpit. Most times though, you will still need to remove it eventually. There are several ways you can alleviate the symptoms that come with it naturally.

Home Remedy Hack has some remedies worth knowing about next time you get one in the armpit. Applying a piece of bread soaked in warm milk over the bump is one of the home remedies known to bring the tip or loop of the ingrowing hair closer to the surface. You can then safely dislodge the hair as instructed above.

A severe outbreak of pseudofolliculitis with papules and pustules can be treated with warm compresses and manual extraction of ingrown hairs with a sterile needle to release the embedded ingrown hair. Then apply an antiseptic to keep the bugs out!

We Also Recommend Using Ingrown Hair Treatment by Penchant Bare with Anti-fungal Antibacterial Benefits.


Prevention may not be better than a cure if this problem is making your armpit feel like it is on fire. Still, since hair removal, especially for females and particularly for armpits is something we are not willing to give up, here a few tips to prevent that nasty ingrown armpit hair, bump or lump from forming in the first place.

1. Use chemical depilatory methods.

Depilation is hair removal in fancy speak. Depilatory products are your ordinary removal methods. This method suggests using chemical hair removal products and avoiding shaving or waxing your underarms. These products may be creams like Nair and are known to leave a more rounded, blunter tip on hair such that it is less likely to grow back into the skin.

You can also consider laser hair removal options for your armpits as a way of avoiding bumps in the underarms from an ingrown hair. It is not exactly chemical but with it, you give a wide berth to hair growing inwards.

2. Learn to shave smarter

You may not be willing or able to give up shaving. Actually, you may not need to if you do it the right way. For one, shave with a sharp razor in the direction your armpit hair is growing in, never the opposite. You should also lather and wet the armpits properly before applying a razor.

3. Avoid comedogenic products

These are cosmetic products that tend to cause clogging or blocking of the pores. Getting rid of these in your beauty regimen will allow new hair to grow out of your pores freely.

Oyher – If you are not using an aftershave or a good ingrown hair serum, you may also experience the bumps that may last a few days or even longer after shaving That’s why we recommend using an Exfoliating Brush to Treat and Prevent Razor Bumps and Ingrown Hairs.

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