What is an Ingrown Hair?
An ingrown hair occurs when the tip of hair curls back/grows sideways in the skin of hair follicle. Ingrown hair is a very common condition and improves without any treatment. It commonly occurs on the shaved area such as armpits, face, neck, pubic area and legs. The cysts caused by ingrown hairs look like scattered red bumps on the skin. It usually occurs with shaving, tweezing or waxing. Ingrown hair occurs because of so many different causes such as shaving, tight clothing, hair structure, the direction of hair growth, curly hair, etc. It various symptoms include pain, itching, skin darkening, embedded hair, etc.
Few preventive tips are very helpful to decrease ingrown hair. It includes shaving with a sharp, single-blade razor, rinse the blade with water after each stroke, avoid close shaves, don’t pull your skin taut while shaving, do not shave over red or irritated skin, apply a cool washcloth to the shaved area of your skin after you shave, etc.
Certain home remedies are also available to treat ingrown hair such as honey, cucumber, aloe vera, salt, sugar scrub, etc. All these home remedies are very helpful. Few medical treatments are also available to treat ingrown hairs. If the problem of ingrown hair persists longer, consult your doctor immediately.
- Small, solid, rounded bumps (papules)
- Small, pus-filled, blister-like lesions (pustules)
- Embedded hairs
- Skin darkening (hyperpigmentation)
- Tight clothing
- Hair structure
- Direction of hair growth
- Curved hair follicle
- Incorrect shaving techniques
- Curly/coarse hair
- Shave with a sharp, single-blade razor.
- Don’t push too hard when shaving
- Rinse the blade with water after each stroke.
- Avoid close shaves
- Don’t pull your skin taut while shaving
- Shave in the same direction your hair is growing.
- Never shave over red or irritated skin.
- Wet your skin with warm water before shaving and apply a lubricating gel.
- If you’re using an electric razor, hold it slightly above the surface of your skin and shave in a circular motion without pressing too hard.
- Apply a cool washcloth to the shaved area of your skin after you shave.
1. Sugar Scrub
Sugar scrub is great for skin as it exfoliates the skin, removes dead cells, makes it silky/smooth and helps the ingrown hair to come out.
- Mix 1 cup of white sugar and ½ cup of jojoba oil or extra virgin olive oil. Add 10 drops of lavender essential oil and tea tree oil in it. Apply a small amount of this scrub on the affected area and gently scrub the skin in circular motion for few minutes. Rinse it off with lukewarm water. Follow this once or twice a week. You can also store the remaining mixture of scrub in an airtight container and use it when required.
Honey has antibacterial properties. It prevents the skin from getting infected and helps in the treatment of ingrown hair. It also moisturizes the skin and reduces inflammation and redness.
- Apply honey directly to the skin. Leave it for few minutes and wash it off with cold water. Repeat it twice or thrice daily for few days.
3. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is one of the very effective home remedy used for the treatment of ingrown hair. It helps to remove an ingrown hair and also provides instant relief from various other skin issues (inflammation, itching) because of its soothing nature. It also moisturizes the skin and speeds up the healing process.
- Extract the gel from fresh aloe vera leaf. Gently rub it on the affected area. Leave it for few minutes and rinse it off with lukewarm water. Follow this twice or thrice daily for few days.
Salt works as a great exfoliating agent. It promotes healing of the skin, reduces swelling and also helps to increase the circulation.
- Add 1 tsp of table salt to a cup of lukewarm water. With the help of cotton ball, apply it on the affected skin. Leave it for few minutes and rinse it off with normal water. Follow this remedy twice daily to treat ingrown hair.
5. Black Teabags
Black tea bags contain tannic acid. It helps to reduce inflammation and redness of the skin. It is also very helpful in removing ingrown hair.
- Moisten a black tea bag with warm water. Gently rub it over the affected area for few minutes. Repeat it several times a day.
- Immerse a tea bag in hot water for few minutes. Take it out from water and squeeze out its liquid in a bowl. Add 1 tsp of coconut water in it. With the help of cotton ball gently apply this mixture in the affected area. Repeat it few times a day for several days.
Treatment of ingrown hair depends on its possible causes. In most of the cases, ingrown hair goes away on its own, But if persist longer consult a doctor immediately.
Available treatment for ingrown hair includes:
- Topical retinoid creams: Topical retinoid creams such as Tretinoin (Retin-A, Renova, others) helps to clear dead skin cells from skin and decrease the buildup of dead skin cells. It also reduces darkening and thickening of the skin that usually occurs in the area of ingrown hair.
- Topical and oral antibiotics: Topical antibiotics and oral antibiotics are prescribed in case of secondary bacterial infection of the ingrown hair. Oral antibiotics include cephalexin (Keflex, Keftabs) and tetracycline (Sumycin). Topical antibiotics include clindamycin (Cleocin) and erythromycin (E-Mycin, Ilosone). Antibacterial wash such as chlorhexidine (Hibiclens) and benzoyl peroxide (Clearasil, Proactiv) are used to control the infection.
- Chemical depilatories: Chemical depilatories such as Neet or Nair are used to loosen the structure of hair. It should be used twice or thrice in a week in order to avoid chemical irritation on the skin.
- Hair removal laser: Laser treatment is the option in case of permanent decrease of the number of hairs. It is used to prevent ingrown hairs. Usually, laser treatment is very safe, fast and very effective.