Ingrown Hair

Dr. S. Kevin Fernando
Medically Reviewed by Dr. S. Kevin Fernando, MBBS
Last Updated on Apr 28, 2016
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What is Ingrown hair?

Ingrown hair is defined as the condition in which the hair have curled and grown back into the skin, causing inflammation of the same. Rarely some areas of dead skin may clog the hair follicle, causing the hair to grow sideways and laterally, instead of the normal outward and upward growth. Sometimes, shaving too closely on face and legs cause the sharpened end of the hair to pierce and grow back into the skin, causing razor bumps, since they appear red due to the inflammation, hence called red bumps.

Certain people who have thick and coarse hair develop a similar condition Pseudofolliculitis barbae, in the beard area due to excessive shaving, tweezing of the unwanted hair.

Ingrown Hair

What are the causes of Ingrown Hair?

Ingrown hairs are the hair, which have curled and grown back into the skin, causing inflammation, instead of growing outward and upward normally.

Anyone with coarse or curly hair, which have been closely shaven or removed, causes ingrown hair. The general causes are:
  • Inflammation of the hair follicle (folliculitis)
  • Excessive removal of unwanted hair on the legs or close shaving by a razor (razor bumps or pseudofolliculitis barbae).
  • Excessive hair growth in certain men, causing removal of the hair on wearing tight garments, or excessive tweezing or shaving the same.
  • Women suffering from hirsutism and attempt to remove the same.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Ingrown Hair?

Some of the signs and symptoms of ingrown hair include,
  • Raised red, flat topped area of the skin with a sharp part of hair (papule)
  • Raised top with inflamed hair follicle with pus (pustule)
  • Redness
  • Rashes
  • Darkening of skin (hyperpigmentation).
  • Permanent scarring (keloids)
  • Itching
Symptoms of Ingrown Hair - Itching

How do you Diagnose Ingrown Hair?

Diagnosis of ingrown hair is clinical; with proper history and clinical lookup of the effected area one can easily diagnose ingrown hair.

How do you Treat Ingrown Hair?

The many different treatment modalities of ingrown hair include:
  • Use of topical retinoids, popularly isotretinoin or tretinoin for removal of hyperpigmented dead skin.
  • Use of topical steroids and antibiotics in case of mild to moderate inflammation, and oral antibiotics for severe inflammation.
  • Use of rotatable medical device
  • Medicated tweezers (this modality is painful but effective).
  • Sterile needle can be used to release the embedded hair tip by inserting it under the hair loop.
  • For persons with chronic coarse hair, or for women with hirsutism, LASER treatment and electrolysis is the mainstay of treatment.
Laser Treatment for Ingrown Hair
  • Certain home remedies include:
    • Honey and Aspirin: Honey as a moisturizer, antiseptic, the salicylic acid of aspirin tends to loose ingrown hair.
    • Baking soda and Oatmeal: It is best for exfoliation.
    • Salt and Cucumber with Aloe Vera: Aloe Vera and salt increase the blood circulation; cucumber provides water for effective cleansing.
    • Warm compress helps alleviate the skin and hence helps in resurfacing of the ingrown hair
    • Apple Cider Vinegar with Teabags. Acts as an antiseptic and cleanser.

How do you Prevent Ingrown Hair?

For prevention of ingrown hair, following methods are satisfactory and remedying:
  • Before shaving, wetting of the facial hair or the areas concerned for removal of hair by warm water.
  • Application of skin lubricants, emollients, use of moisturizing shaving creams or gels before shaving.
  • Use of single blade razors in shaving proven helpful by showing fewer chances of the appearance of ingrown hair.
  • Always shave in the direction of hair growth to minimize the inward hair pull impact and rinse the blade after each stroke. Donít pull your skin taut while shaving.
  • Application of alcohol-based aftershave lotions and gels can be helpful for minimizing the appearance of the ingrown hair.
  • Electric razor with avoiding the closest shave setting, and use of blade slightly away from the skin.
  • Use of chemical epilators after testing on a small area.
  • Use of eflornithine cream for decreasing hair growth.
  • Topical application of diluted glycolic acid might help in some cases.

Health tips

  • Keep the area susceptible to ingrown hair clean and warm.
  • Use an epilator to dig out the hair from the pore of the follicle every time after shaving.

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