Beauty and Anti Aging

What Does an Ingrown Hair Look Like?

The fundamentals of an ingrown hair and the distress it creates

What Does an Ingrown Hair Look Like?

Ingrown hairs look very similar to acne but they are very different. They happen when hair refuses to grow out of the follicles in the normal course. The hair instead curls or winds sideways into its own follicle or into the tissue of the skin creating a host of problems.

You find Afro-Americans and Asians facing hair ingrowths more prominently due to the essentially curly, wavy and coarser nature of their hair. It is an embarrassing and immensely distressful ailment that has defied a permanent solution. But it can be prevented by employing the correct shaving and waxing routines and proper skincare. This is what ingrown hair look like.


The symptoms are visually embarrassing and uncommonly painful 

  • The area is prone to itching
  • Inflammatory conditions make the area raw and tender
  • Reddish bumps appear carpet bombing swathes of skin
  • Tips of follicles will be transparent exposing the hair curled tightly inside
  • Whiteheads referred to as milia represent pus filled follicles that are fighting infection
  • Shaving over inflamed areas only exacerbates pain and discomfort
  • Because of dilation of blood vessel close to the uppermost layers, skin appears reddish in color
  • Repeated exfoliation by shaving breaks pores leaving skin open to invasion by surface bacteria

The elevated bump

  • On closer scrutiny, you will notice a red-hued bump very similar to acne but with a clear and transparent tip.
  • A closer look will reveal the dark shadow of hair tightly curled up inside the follicular sac.
  • The ingrown hair mound will be usually surrounded by a crusty layer of dead skin cells.
  • Generally, the area affected by hair ingrowths will appear rough, reddish-hued and dry.
  • Inflamed skin and extreme dryness are noticeable features of hair ingrowths.
  • Gentle prodding will normally elicit pain and acute discomfort.

The reason why skin inflammation follows ingrowths

Hair strands are not supposed to grow into their own follicles or surrounding tissues. When this happens, the body’s immune system triggers the release of antibodies that attack the hair treating it just like a foreign invader. The immune response and raised hormonal activity creates inflammation making the outer skin achieve a reddish tint.  If the skin gets cut using a dull-edged razor or poor quality wax hair remover, bacteria present on the surface infiltrate the tissue spreading infection.

Infection and pus accumulation

Using a cotton swab or fingers encased in linen gauze, gently prod the bulbous protrusion. Sometimes the contents get discharged and a thick, waxy, gluey white or yellow pus will come out. This is the first visible sign of follicular infection and one of the reasons why one must be careful not to puncture bumps and spread infection.  

Hair ingrowths in genital areas and legs of women

Frequent waxing or shaving in the armpits, pubic area and legs often create raised swellings that look like acne. Any attempt at manually removing the pimples creates scars and the skin darkens perceptibly. The bump appears as a tiny circular reddish dot with a volcano of white crowning its tip.

Squeezing the tip makes it excrete whitish or yellowish pus and reveals the hair coiled within. But this should never be done without disinfecting the skin and without using sterilized cotton and tweezers.

Cause of ingrown hair near vagina lips :

Some people get them when pregnant. Others get ingrown pubic hair during, after or before period. There’s a reason for that, but mostly, hair removal methods are the major cause of ingrown hair in pubic area or labia. Here are the possible causes of ingrown hair follicles on labia and general bikini region.


Yellow, white, green razor bumps in bikini zone :

Greenish yellow bumps or white bumps on the bikini area is a sign of infection. Infected ingrown hair on vagina inner labia or outer labia can be a source of discomfort. Bacterial infections can cause a foul smell and itchiness in the genital region. If you have ingrown hair on labia with yellow or white bumps, seek treatment.


Bleeding bumps when popped

Usually scratching, popping or applying any kind of trauma to ingrown genital hair can cause them to bleed. The red bumps are tender and will break easily if you scratch them.

Hair ingrowths can appear as singular entities or as clusters

The isolated hair ingrowth is much easier to tackle. You can pry open the top layer with a sharp needle, deploy pointed tweezers to remove the ingrown hair and finish off by swabbing the infected area with disinfected cotton and antibiotic creams.

The tactics need to be changed when you are carpet bombed by clusters of small reddish ingrowths

  • Expose the skin to a hot shower allowing the skin cells to soften up.
  • Pat the area dry and apply a solution of 1% hydrocortisone and salicylic acid. The steroidal suspension combats inflammation, itching, and burning. The salicylic acid works away loosening the collagen in surface cells helping you to exfoliate dead cells and expose fresh tissue.
  • Ensure to follow thorough deep cleansing and moisturizing practices immediately before and after every shave or hair removing routine.
  • Use natural oils like tea tree oil, almond oil, and coconut oil in abundance to keep the skin moist and supple and to prevent dehydration.


Is ingrown hair same as razor bumps or pseudofolliculitis?


Pseudofolliculitis is one type of ingrown hair. This is also called as razor bumps, in which small red bums appear on the beard area (lower face and neck) and may flare with repeat shaving. Razor bums are commonly experienced by African-American men, especially those who shave frequently. Flesh-coloured red bumps with a hair shaft in their center are seen in shaved areas adjacent to the hair follicle opening. Pustules and abscesses may occasionally form, especially if there are bacteria on the skin. In the chronic or inadequately treated situations, post inflammatory hyperpigmentation, scarring, and rare keloid formation may occur. This skin condition is mostly seen in darker skin or African skin with facial hair because of the curvature of these patient’s hair follicles.