In The Beauty Light: Ingrown Hair

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Ingrown hair growth is something almost everyone experiences in their life. However, not everyone knows the different ways you can treat it. Continue reading to find out more about ingrown hair and the steps one can take to potentially prevent it: 

What Is Ingrown Hair?

Ingrown hair – for which the medical term is “pseudofolliculitis barbae” – occurs when hair, instead of growing out of your skin, grows back into the skin. They are likely to affect those who have thick, curly hair.

While ingrown hair usually go on their own, they are also easily treated. However, if they don’t go on their own, you might be susceptible to: 

  • An infection
  • Darkened skin
  • Scarring

Ingrown could cause what is known as pilonidal cysts. These are hair and skin debris pockets, most commonly located at the base of your tailbone, between your buttocks. They might hurt and be swollen and it’s possible that you’ll require surgery to get rid of them.

Causes

Improper Hair Removal

Ingrown hairs are most commonly caused by poor shaving techniques. Cutting hair extremely near to the skin creates a highly pointed tip on the end of each hair. Some of these can curl back and grow into the skin causing ingrown hair.

Waxing and plucking hairs out can also cause ingrown hairs. Plucked hair grows back through the follicle. As such, it may not make it all the way to the surface of the skin before turning and clogging the follicle.

Clogged Follicles

Hair follicles can also be clogged by:

  • Dead skin
  • Dirt and debris.

When this happens, the hair in the follicle might become trapped or grow sideways into the skin resulting in ingrown hair. In some circumstances, hair can grow beneath the skin’s surface.

Friction

Ingrown hair can be caused by friction produced by wearing tight clothing for long periods of time. Hairs can be constantly rubbed against the skin due to friction created by body movement throughout the day. This can lead the hairs to flip around and push back into the follicle.

Symptoms

  • Small, solid, rounded bumps (papules)
  • Small, pus-filled, blister-like lesions (pustules)
  • Skin darkening (hyperpigmentation)
  • Pain
  • Itching
  • Embedded hairs
  • Skin irritation
  • Small bumps with hairs in the middle on the face and neck

Where Do They Occur?

Most likely to show in places you shave, wax or pluck your hair:

  • Face and neck
  • Scalp
  • Legs
  • Armpits
  • Chest
  • Back
  • Pubic area

Treatment

If you are unable to wait out, ingrown can easily be treated at home:

  • Stop shaving and allow the hair to grow.
  • A warm towel and a gentle toothbrush can be used to coax out the hairs
  • Use an electric trimmer.
  • You can use a product that removes hair without shaving.
  • To prevent scarring or infection, don’t pick at or scratch the hairs or squeeze the razor bumps.
  • Wear loose clothing on areas surrounding the hair to avoid friction.
  • To treat razor bumps, apply warm compresses to the affected skin.
  • A sterilised needle or tweezers can be used to pull the hair straight once any part of it emerges above the skin line.

Prevention Methods

Using correct hair removal procedures is the best approach to avoid ingrown hairs:

  • Wash your skin with warm water and a mild facial cleanser before shaving.
  • Apply shaving cream or gel a few minutes before shaving to soften the hair. Or apply a warm compress.
  • Use a sharp razor every time you shave.
  • Avoid close shaves.
  • Don’t pull your skin taut while shaving.
  • Shave in the direction of hair growth.
  • Rinse the blade after each stroke.
  • Rinse your skin and apply lotion after you shave.
  • Frequently change the blade.

Other prevention alternatives include laser hair removal, chemical shave or electrolysis.

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