Ingrown hairs are a benign skin disorder and is seen in all age groups, however is more common among those with thick and curly hair. They are produced by hair being removed too close to the skin and are commonly seen on the face for men (when shaving one’s beard) and the pubic region for women (when shaving one’s bikini line). When growing back, the hair gets trapped under the skin and begin to curl within the covering of the skin. This kind of growth typically has an outward appearance of a red bump, similar to that of a pimple or hives, and can cause irritation that might prolong shaving until the ingrown hair is resolved. Additionally, any bacteria within a hair follicle can get trapped within the skin which can lead to infection.
These red bumps can take between a few days to several weeks to disappear, depending on how long it takes for the hair to grow out naturally. However, that are some methods that can either prevent the development of ingrown hairs or expedite the healing process, such as:
Exfoliation – When you exfoliate, you are removing the dead skin that has accumulated on the outer layer of your skin. This building up of dead skin can create a barrier, making it hard for hairs to break through the epidermis layer of the skin, and therefore getting trapped underneath. Products with glycolic or salicylic acid can be very helpful to clear away that dead skin and make it easier for hairs to pop out.
Regular cleansing – This includes changing your razor and making sure it is clean before using it on your body. Shaving with a dirty razor can both increase the chance of ingrown hairs as well as developing an infection by introducing bacteria to the body. Every razor’s differs, so there is no official recommendation for how long until a razor should be thrown out, but a good rule of thumb is to watch out for any rust on the blades. Additionally, if your razor pulls and cuts your skin more than usual, that means the blades are dull and should be replaced/thrown away.
Teasing the hair – Gently teasing the hair from its trap with tweezers can speed up the healing process. This doesn’t mean tweezing the hair completely, as that can cause further irritation, opening of a wound, and increase risk of infection. However, if you tease the hair by using tweezers to pull the hair out of the skin, and then shave it (in the direction that the hair grows), that will create an opening for the hair to grow out of.
Laser hair removal – This procedure uses light to destroy the hair follicles, making sure that they can’t grow back again. It can help save money on razors (because you won’t have to buy them) and also assist with treating ingrown hairs. At Women’s Health Practice, we offer Hirsutism and hair removal services which involve laser therapy, chemical hair removal, and medical consultations for hair concerns.
Ingrown hairs can be a pain to deal with, but there are ways to prevent and/or treat them. If you are more prone to develop ingrown hairs, try exfoliating your body 2 times a week to clear way some of that accumulated dead skin and purchasing a new razor every so often. If you find ingrown hairs to still be a constant aggravating problem, or are just tired of spending a significant amount money on razors every year, call (217)356-3736 to schedule an appointment at WHP for a consultation to see if laser hair removal might be right for you.