Ingrown hair is a condition where hair has grown back into the skin instead of out through the surface. An ingrown hair, since it irritates the skin, usually appears as a small, red bump, much like a pimple. Sometimes, it can have pus inside the follicle and look like a boil and cause you some pain and discomfort. You might have a number of them in areas you frequently shave, such as your armpits, legs, pubic area, and face.
The hair that has grown sideways or curled back into the skin may sometimes be visible, and the itching might give you the urge to break the skin so you can use tweezers to pull the hair out. Don't do it. The wound you inflict upon yourself could get infected and cause you greater suffering. The best person to remove the nuisance is a doctor, who can make a small cut in your skin with a sterile scalpel or needle to free the hair and pull it out. He or she may also prescribe you an antibiotic if the area is infected, steroid medication to lessen the swelling, and retinoids to exfoliate the top layer of dead skin cells and prevent the spot from darkening.
Persons for whom ingrown hair is persistent might choose electrolysis or laser hair removal, both of which are permanent hair removal methods that kill the hair follicles. Foregoing shaving can help lessen the likelihood of ingrown hair, but walking around hairy might not always desirable. Opting for hair removal methods that are less likely to result in ingrown hair can help, as will simple but effective home remedies that either help prevent this troublesome condition, alleviate its troublesome symptoms, or even coax the hair to the surface.
The following are five of the most effective home remedies you can try.
1. The crystal scrub that may save your skin
The sugar that sweetens your coffee can be used to bring comfort to your embattled skin. Sugar happens to be an excellent exfoliator--it can gently scour away the dead cells that form a thin layer over hair follicles, sometimes preventing hair from projecting outward, straight and true through the skin.
Take a small amount of table sugar and mix it with either virgin olive oil or refined jojoba oil, adding a small portion of lavender essence. Mix thoroughly until you get a smooth paste.
Spread the paste evenly over the affected area, taking care not to break larger, inflamed follicles that are likely filled with blood and pus. Use gentle circular strokes over the skin, making sure that the pressure on the skin is minimal. After a few minutes, wash away the paste with warm water.
The sugar crystals will have scraped away the crusty, dead skin cells. The oil ensures that the skin retains its resilience. Lavender checks bacterial growth and soothes the burning sensation.
2. Harnessing the exfoliating power of sodium bicarbonate
Sodium bicarbonate is a cooking ingredient commonly found in our kitchens that can aid us in combating ingrown hair.
Mix a teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate with a cup of wild oats (preferably ground to a coarse powder), and add sufficient water to form a pasty solution. Gently apply the paste to the skin and leave to dry for ten to fifteen minutes. This treatment removes dead skin cells and relieves the burning or itching sensation associated with infected ingrown hair follicles.
3. An essential oil that does wonders to alleviate symptoms
The advantages of using melaleuca oil are threefold. It attacks bacteria, thereby eliminating the risk of having an infection spread or worsen. It is also a strong antiseptic and keeps the surrounding skin dirt- and bacteria-free. Moreover, it effectively reduces the swelling, pain, and redness associated with hair ingrowth.
Mix in two to three drops of melaleuca oil with one teaspoon of water and apply the solution to the inflamed skin, ensuring that the area is first washed clean with a mild antimicrobial solution. Allow the oily film to stay on the skin for at least fifteen minutes before rinsing it off with warm water. Ideally, this routine should be done twice daily, in the early morning and late evening hours, and after a warm shower to open up your skin's pores.
4. An over-the-counter medication that relieves chronic pain, stops fever, and conquers inflammation
A derivative of salicylic acid, aspirin has major benefits that would be of direct help in alleviating the chief symptoms of ingrown hair – periodic swelling, recurring inflammation, and infection. While aspirin is very effective in reducing the discomfort, the salicylic acid component in the medication goes even further by eliminating dead skin cells, thereby thinning the surface of the affected skin.
Take two tablets and immerse them in a small amount of water until the tablets dissolve enough and can be mixed with the water into a pasty uniformity. Introduce a spoonful of raw honey and mix thoroughly. Apply the paste to the inflamed and irritated skin and leave it undisturbed for at least ten minutes. With warm water, gently wash the skin, and then dry it gently by patting the area with a soft nonabrasive cloth.
5. Sea salt, the gentle exfoliator and medicine for all seasons
Salt crystals have remarkable exfoliating power and have been extensively used in traditional medicine for curing many ailments as well as for alleviating symptoms of swelling and infection. Salt also acts quickly to increasing circulation in affected skin tissue.
Dissolve two tablespoons of salt in a cup of warm water and allow small cotton balls to soak in the mixture. Plaster the soaked cotton pads onto the skin and leave them on for ten minutes. Rinse the area with warm water and use a disinfectant solution to clean the skin. Repeat the procedure twice daily for a week or more until swelling subsides and the irritation clears up.
More ingrown hair prevention and care
Ingrown hair might be a severely troublesome and even cosmetically disfiguring issue for some, while it may be mild, occasional, and self-treating for others. Whatever the case be, it can be irritating at the very least. It would therefore be wise to observe some skin care habits that help prevent ingrown hair.
1. Make sure you use warm water to shave daily and gently, and use a face scrub once in a while.
2. Using razors aggressively can only worsen the situation. As good as it feels to smooth, hairless skin, over-shaving can cause blisters, dry skin, and epidermal irritation. Go lightly.
3. Allow the hair to grow out fully every once in a while. After that, use a lemon-based or other mild scrub over a period of two to three days, rubbing it gently on the skin. This will help the ingrown hair come out more quickly, but with the skin worked on a little at a time in a gentle process.
4. Sweating, exposure to the sun, and scratching the affected areas make the condition worse.
5. Maintaining a proper skin care routine that includes moisturizing and exfoliating goes a long way in keeping ingrown hair at bay.