According to Jessica Johnson, brand ambassador for Completely Bare, ingrown hairs can occur because of two things: when a hair strand curls and grows back into the skin instead of coming through the pores or when it grows sideways into the skin because there is too much dead skin cells clogging up the pores and hindering the right hair growth.
While it is everyone’s desire to maintain smooth and flawless skin, hair removal treatments will always put one at risk of developing ingrown hairs. The condition, although not serious, can be very irritating and embarrassing. It often manifests as a raised painful red bump that is sometimes filled with pus.
Although everyone is at risk of ingrown hairs, the problem happens to be more persistent in people with extremely curly and coarse hair, which is more likely to bend back into the skin, especially after it has been cut. Additionally, having high levels of certain sex hormones can lead to excessive hair growth, which increases chances of ingrown hairs.
The major cause of ingrown hairs in men is improper shaving methods. Once the hair is cut short, it creates a sharp tip that is too close to skin and may easily pierce back. Ingrown hairs are common in areas of the skin that are shaved or waxed regularly. For men it appears in the beard area such as cheeks, neck and chin. A few may also develop it on their scalps.
Women, on the other hand, will often have it on the armpits, pubic area and legs.
In most cases, ingrown hairs will heal without any intervention. However, it is advisable that you avoid scratching the affected area to avoid developing an infection. Once the follicles become infected, the swelling and pain become worse and may eventually leave a scar. In the case of a mild infection, simple remedies like dabbing an antiseptic and putting off shaving for a while will help clear the condition.
More severe infection and aggressive ingrown hairs may require the attention of a dermatologist, who will prescribe a treatment depending on the underlying cause. Some common treatment methods include laser hair removal, electrolysis, topical and oral antibiotics and use of retinoids.
It is also important to note that there are other conditions that may be confused with ingrown hairs, which include acne, moluscum contagiosum and keratosis pilaris. Therefore, if uncertain of what condition is bothering you, make sure to consult with a qualified doctor.