Ingrown Hair Prevention: Causes, Signs and Treatments

Getting weird bumps that are not exactly pimples or hives either? What could they be? Can the bump be a result of ingrown hairs?

Ingrown hairs are a result of hair becoming crooked or curling around forcing it to grow back into the skin instead of growing out of it. usually, it is expected to grow straight out from its follicles. The follicles are located on the skin.

Causes of ingrown hair

  1. They can happen to anyone; however, the problem is more common with people whose hair texture is extremely curly or coarse: This is because curly or coarse hair easily curl, grow backward and re-enter the skin especially after a shave or cut.
  2. The majority of African-Americans, Latino’s and people with extremely thick, curly hair are susceptible to develop them referred to as pseudofolliculitis commonly referred to as razor bumps. The condition usually occurs around the beard area especially after shaving, waxing, or tweezing to get rid of excess hair.

    Usually, after shaving or cutting it, it that grows back is usually sharper thus can easily penetrate through the skin and become trapped under the skin.
  1. Certain sex hormones promote excessive growth of hair which increases the susceptibility of some people to develop this problem.
  2. Sometimes, they are a result of dead skin cells clogging up hair follicles thus forcing it inside the skin to grow sideways or under the skin.

Signs and symptoms to note them

  1. They can be very irritating to the skin. It appears in form of a red, inflamed bump (or a collection of bumps on the skin) that resembles a pimple.
  2. In some cases, they can develop extremely painful, boil-like sores. Additionally, the bumps from ingrown hair may be itchy and severely uncomfortable especially when they occur in groups or they may be filled with pus.
  3. In men, they appear in groups around the chin, cheeks, or even the neck after shaving while in women, they usually occur on legs, pubic area, and armpits, and in some cases, they can even occur on the buttocks.

How to prevent ingrown hairs

In order to prevent them, it’s advisable to stay away from shaving, tweezing or waxing if possible. However, if this is not possible, incorporate the following tips to prevent them:

  1. Use a sharp, single-bladed razor for shaving
  2. Avoid making your skin taut while shaving.
  3. Always wipe the skin with some warm water and apply some lubricating gels or creams on the region to soften the hair before shaving.
  4. Rub the parts of your body that are prone to getting ingrown hairs using a wet washcloth or exfoliating scrub to force out any annoying cases.
  5. When shaving figure out the direction that best works for you: for men who are prone to getting razor bumps, it’s advisable to shave in the same direction as that of hair growth. However, studies indicate that shaving against its growth decreases the razor bumps. Therefore, it’s advisable to experiment in order to determine what works for you.
  6. Avoid shaving too close to the skin instead leave some stubble if possible. Additionally, when using an electric razor, slightly hold it above the surface of your skin.
  7. Using fewer strokes of the razor reduces the risk of hair curling back into the skin. Additionally, always rinse the blade after each stroke.

However, there are other prevention methods such as the use of

  1. Depilatory creams that work by dissolving hair. However, the chemicals in these products can irritate your skin, it’s advisable to test these chemical products on a small surface area first.
  2. Electrolysis (use of laser or electric current) to permanently eliminate hair follicles.
  3. Some products such as eflornithine creams reduce hair growth notes mayo clinic. The prescription cream works best to prevent this problem when combined with a hair removal method such as laser therapy.

How to treat them

Normally, they go away on their own without any medical intervention. However, if they fail to grow out the skin you can try out one of the following remedies:

  1. Applying warm compresses on the area or using a wet washcloth or a soft toothbrush and gently rubbing the skin in circular motions can help to soothe the area.
  2. Exfoliate the area to remove dead skin cells around the ingrown hair to help revert the hair to the surface of the skin. Additionally, your doctor can prescribe medications to assist in sloughing off the dead skin cells.
  3. If the hair rises above the skin, you can opt to gently pull it out using sterilized tweezers or needles. However, you should be careful not to pluck it out completely until the area is healed otherwise the skin may cover the hair again. Additionally, avoid digging into the skin to prevent further complications or infections.
  4. Avoid aggravating the region by waxing, tweezing, or shaving until they are completely healed. Continuous picking on the region will lead to increased sensitivity or irritation which could potentially lead to skin infection or scarring.
  5. In case ingrown hairs become severe you can use retinoids e.g. tretinoin topical cream to increase the removal rate of dead skin cells and dark skin patches. However, you will need a prescription from the doctor and it is not advisable to use when pregnant.