Control those Stubborn Ingrown Hairs

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In western cultures, hair removal is prominent amongst beauty regimes and the quest for permanent removal is often a top cited frustration experienced among women and even men.

Not only is the pain or additional work of hair removal cumbersome, but the skin irritation that can occur afterwards, primarily in the form of ingrown hair, makes the process that much less ideal.

Ingrown hairs can be identified in the form of tiny bumps around the skin area where hair has been removed in the form of shaving, waxing, electrolysis and tweezing. Also known as razor bumps, and medically referred to as psuedofolliculitus barbae or pfb, these bumps can cause irritation, scarring or redness. 

Ingrown hair occurs when the hair does not come out properly from the follicle and remains embedded in the skin. The sharp tip of the hair tends to curl back or grow sideways into the skin. Dead cells can accumulate at the site of the irritation and form a papule, which can also contain pus while the skin heals. In the meantime, other hair in the area can also get trapped under the formation,and is prevented from exiting the skin properly, leading to even bigger bumps.

It can be painful but usually is not. It is common in certain areas of the body that are more difficult to shave or epilate, due to body heat and friction between the skin and clothing.

Women tend to experience this in the bikini area and men in the beard and neck area, as these are common areas which have coarse hair. Thicker, coarser hairs found in African Americans tend to have the highest rate of problems with these razor bumps (when 5 to 40 small red bumps appear in an area and can flare with repeated shaving) due to the hair property.

This skin condition is harmless; medically, it is considered as a benign skin condition, but it is cosmetically unappealing. Ingrowns can lead to skin discoloration, or hyperpigmentation, skin infection, and if not handled properly scar formation.

Ways to prevent ingrown hair include:

  • Exfoliate regularly with a loofah or mesh sponge after waxing or shaving, you’ll take off the thin layer of skin that’s trapping the hairs and set them free.
  • Use a new blade or even try a new one. Old blades that are dull can introduce new bacteria to fresh skin
  • Try using an electronic razor or another hair removal medium such waxing, or tweezing if shaving has been your usual choice
  • Hydrate the skin to soften it before hair removal process
  • If you shave, do NOT go against the hair growth direction
  • Do not shave too close to the skin

Share your thoughts with us on how you have tackled ingrown hair.