What does it mean to have ingrown hairs?
What is an ingrown hair? Ingrown hair occurs when naturally occurring body hairs try to regrow after being shaved, tweezed, or waxed away from the skin. As these hairs begin to regrow, some of them can grow at a curve, causing them to continue growing under the skin instead of coming out again. This is why the term “ingrown” is used – these hairs are literally growing inside the skin rather than outside of it like normal.
When hairs are ingrown, they can create a small bump on the surface of the skin. Because the hair and the area around the skin are irritated, they can appear red, inflamed, and sore, much like a pimple or pustule. It isn’t uncommon for ingrown hairs to develop pus inside of them much like a pimple, especially if the pore becomes infected.
While it can be uncomfortable and unappealing on the surface of your skin, they are extremely common and usually not a cause for concern, according to the Mayo Clinic.
How do I get rid of ingrown hair?
The Cleveland Clinic recommends gentle exfoliation as a method for safely removing ingrown hairs. To do this, use an exfoliation pad or soft cloth, dampen it with warm water, and gently massage the area in circular motions. The heat and gentle, repetitive motions will help wipe away excess, dry skin cells, allowing the hair to emerge from the skin’s surface.
In some cases, exfoliation may not completely release the hair from where it is trapped beneath the skin’s surface. In these cases, try to exfoliate the hair as close to the surface as you can. This may take multiple sessions to gently massage the hair closer to the surface.
When you can finally see it, use a sterile needle or sterile tweezers to gently lift the hair out of the skin. If you use this method, make sure you are using sterile tools and being extra gentle with your skin – you should not be forcing or jabbing the skin in order to remove the ingrown hair, as excessive force can make the situation worse.
Infected ingrown hair, Should I pop the ingrown hair?
Attempting to pop an ingrown hair can lead to undesirable complications. Sometimes, ingrown hairs can seem “poppable” because they can cause cysts to occur – while there is pus around these types of ingrown hairs, popping them can cause further damage to your skin, such as permanent scarring or serious infection, according to VeryWell Health.
Even if an ingrown hair looks like a tempting pimple, remember that the risk of scarring or infection is never worth the brief satisfaction of popping it. Instead, leave the area alone and keep a close eye on it. If you notice excessive swelling, soreness, or oozing, see a healthcare provider right away.
Will ingrown hair go away?
Most ingrown hairs will eventually go away on their own within a week or so. According to VeryWell Health, one of the safest and most effective methods of treating ingrown hair is leaving it alone – no tweezing, popping, or prodding.
You can take good care of the area to promote healing. As the healing takes place, make sure you keep the area clean, avoid shaving or any other hair removal there until it’s completely gone, and keep your skin well-moisturized.
How to prevent ingrown hair? Avoiding shaving is the most effective method available to prevent ingrown hairs. There are things you can do to prevent their growth and help them heal more quickly.
- Apply some shaving gel after wetting your skin with warm water.
- Make as few strokes with the razor as practical.
- After each stroke with the razor, you should rinse it.
- Ensure that you shave in the same direction that your hair is growing.
- You could also try an alternative form of hair removal, such as hair removal cream.
- After shaving, soothing your skin by applying a cool, moist cloth to it might help decrease inflammation.
- Make use of an exfoliating scrub in order to free any hairs that have become entangled.
- You might want to give permanent hair removal methods like laser therapy a shot.
Can you pop ingrown hair?
Many people feel tempted to “pop” their ingrown hairs because they can form pimples and cysts beneath the skin’s surface where the hair is trapped. This is not an uncommon occurrence. However, just because you can “pop” them, doesn’t mean you should!
Popping the cyst that sometimes forms around an ingrown hair can lead to some serious negative side effects. Besides extending the overall time for it to heal, and can also lead to some nasty infections, according to VeryWell Health. Dirty hands and unsterilized tools used to pop cysts can cause the ingrown hair to become much, much worse.
What causes ingrown hairs?
Ingrown hairs are caused when hair that has been removed from the body begins to grow back at an angle or curve, causing it to continue forming just under the surface of the skin. According to the Mayo Clinic, this usually happens after someone shaves, tweezes, or waxes away body hair – many of these methods can cause tugging to occur on the hair follicle, making the new hair that grows back develop at a slight angle. Ingrown hairs can also occur when the follicle is blocked, meaning the new hair can’t emerge through the surface of the skin like normal.
Why do ingrown hairs hurt?
Ingrown hairs hurt because the hair trying to emerge from the skin can’t break through – this curving of the hair back into the skin can cause soreness and swelling.
When these hairs develop, cysts and pimples around them appear, and the pain can get even worse. This is especially true if your ingrown hair cyst or pimple forms in a place where clothing is rubbing against it, such as the waistband of your pants.
When should I be worried about an ingrown hair?
This typically is not a cause for any major concern. Most of them will heal and disappear on their own within a week or so of occurring. However, there are some situations where an ingrown hair may need medical attention.
If the area around it becomes very swollen and red, or if the area begins leaking pus, it is time to schedule a visit with your preferred medical provider – these are signs of an infection. When infections are left untreated, they can cause extreme, lasting illness and damage to the skin.
The best way to avoid problems with ingrown hairs is to leave them alone. Do not attempt to squeeze or pop them if they develop pustules or a cyst. Instead, allow the area to breathe and heal on its own without any “help” or interference.
Can ingrown hair cause a hard bump?
Ingrown hair bumps can also develop a cyst. This cyst, which is a pus-filled pocket that forms due to infection of the ingrown hair, can be quite swollen and sore to the touch. When you touch, it can feel a bit like a small, hard lump just under the surface of your skin.
How do you get rid of an ingrown hair cyst fast?
Ingrown hairs typically take about a week to heal completely. However, there are some methods you can use to promote quick healing whenever they form cysts, according to the Mayo Clinic:
- Do not pop the cyst! Leave the area alone and do not use your hands or any special tools to attempt to drain the area on your own.
- Avoid shaving the area until the cyst has completely healed.
- Use a warm compress on the area to promote bringing the hair to the surface of your skin again.
If the hair cyst doesn’t show signs of improvement, seek medical attention.
How To Get Rid of an Ingrown Hair – DIY
- 1 Cup of warm water
- 1-2 Tbsp. Epsom Salt
- 1/2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
- Optional Essential Oil
- Soft Towel
- In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup of warm water and 1-2 tablespoons of Epsom salt.
- Combine half a tablespoon of olive oil with a few drops of your preferred aromatic oil.
- For best results, combine all ingredients and soak a few cotton pads or a tiny cloth for at least two minutes.
- Place pad or cloth on affected region, wring out lightly, and let it sit for 10 minutes.
- Optional: After drying skin, put on a moisturizer. You can use this method up to once or twice a week.