Ingrown hair is a problem commonly found in people with close-cropped curly hair, especially in African- Americans, Latinos, etc. This is most prevalent in men who shave and rarely in women in their pubic area.
Ingrown hair occurs when the hair follicle does not take its normal path of growing out of the skin and instead curls inside to grow under the layer of skin. This results in bumps on the face, neck, or the area where the hair is growing inward. They appear like pimples and can be painful and filled with pus. It is not a serious condition but undesirable and irritating.
Simple ways to deal with ingrown hair are as follows.
- Ingrown hair is also known as “razor bump”. So in order to avoid this, it is a good idea to moisten the skin and the hair follicles with warm water before shaving. This helps in softening the skin and follicle and then while shaving the hair comes off effortlessly. The curly hair when wet straightens to some extent and during shaving there are less chances of it curling back and resulting in ingrown hair.
- Using the inner membrane of an egg shell also helps in removing the ingrown hair. Remove the membrane carefully from the shell and place it over the affected area. Allow it to dry up and shrink. Then pull it off gently, the ingrown hair comes out on the membrane.
- Wash and keep the area around the infected spot clean so that there are no chances of the infection spreading. Treat the area with an antiseptic and use a moisturizing soap to soften the skin.
- Warm water compress aids in softening the skin and thus helping the ingrown hair to emerge on the surface of the skin so that it can be extracted easily. Sometimes the ingrown hair too finds its way and comes out of the skin.
- If you plan to extract the hair if it emerges on the surface of the skin, then make sure to use a sterilized needle or tweezers. This is essential to prevent infection while removing the hair, as that area becomes sensitive due to pricking or pulling.
- Exfoliating the skin on regular basis helps in preventing ingrown hair.
- Shaving with a single sharp blade in the direction of hair growth bars the hair from curling back into the skin. Try not to shave too close to the surface, especially the curly haired people, since their hair roots have a tendency to coil up and thus result in ingrown hair.
- Use good quality shaving cream that moisturizes the skin while shaving. This ensures a smooth shave. Application of cold wash cloth after shaving helps to close the open pores instantly, reducing the chances of ingrown hair. Electric razor works better than normal blade when held a little away from the surface of the skin.
- If you find many ingrown hair bumps on the face, it is advisable to consult a dermatologist for hair removal treatment as well as medication to reduce the pain and infection.
Ingrown hair is neither an uncommon condition nor a disease. However, it IS painful at times and if you cannot handle it at home, then consulting a doctor is the best option.