Healthy Living

What Causes Ingrown Hairs?

What Causes Ingrown Hairs?

Key Takeaways

  • Unlike hair that grows straight out of follicles and remains that way, curly hair is potentially more capable of growing back into the skin. 
  • Synthetic clothing like nylon and polyester and tight fitting jeans toughen up the skin and create conditions favorable for ingrown hair

An ingrown hair is the bump that refuses to go away, the reddish rash that becomes an eyesore, and the dull pain sparked by normal contact. If there’s anything capable of making life a living hell, it’s an ingrown hair.

Basically, normal hair grows out of the follicle with only its root firmly embedded in skin tissue to draw nourishment from the circulating blood.

There are three ways that hair deviates from the normal path:

  • Curly nature encourages hair to grow back into the skin
  • Physical abrasion as in shaving in the opposite direction that creates broken shafts that grow inward
  • Keratinization or hardening of dead skin cells that prevent hair shafts from growing out of follicles. Instead, they grow sideways into surrounding tissue.

Examining the causes, and detailing solutions to ingrown hair

Our hair type and skin care routine may play a bigger role than we think

Unlike hair that grows straight out of follicles and remains that way, curly hair is potentially more capable of growing back into the skin. The next culprit would be our daily skin care and hair care routines. Using tweezers to puncture the skin or using nails to dig out an ingrown hair is an open invitation to spreading infection. Instead use sterilized tweezers and finish by wiping the skin surface with alcohol dipped cotton swabs.

Tight fitting synthetic fabrics

Cotton fabrics sponge up sweat and dirt but still allow the skin to breathe through them. Synthetic clothing like nylon and polyester and tight fitting jeans toughen up the skin and create conditions favorable for ingrown hairs.

The razor routine might spell disaster for your skin

The purpose of using the razor is to scrape off the hair. Women shaving their legs often apply the razor too closely, peeling away a protective layer of skin. This leaves the surface irritated and inflamed. Using a fresh razor with a sharper edge and secure guard will prevent bumps and ingrown hairs. Also remember that every shaving stroke requires the soothing base of thick shaving gel, and a dry shaving routine using talcum powder should be avoided.

Shaving or waxing against the flow of hair

The purpose of a shaving gel is to smooth out and soften the stubble, making it supple and flexible for the shaving routine. But shaving against the direction of hair growth only serves to traumatize the skin. The skin pulls the broken hair shaft into the pore creating grounds for ingrown hair. The same goes for waxing, you will need to use professional waxing tools to ensure coarse and curly tufts of hair are firmly gripped and dislodged. If you want to lean towards safety, use a natural combination of sugared lemon in water to dislodge hair without harming the root and skin.

Removing hair without follow-up skin care

Removing hair by shaving or waxing is not a goal by itself, rather it should be at the beginning of your skin care routine. Neglecting skin care invites proliferation of ingrown hair.  A properly thought out exfoliating treatment is a must to ensure that the skin survives the harshness of shaving and waxing. The best moment is just after a hot shower when the pores open up. The most effective routine is using natural massaging oils like almond oil and tea tree oil with smooth circular motions aided by a loofah.

 

Additional causes of ingrown hair:

A number of factors could cause normal hair to stay embedded in the skin, often manifesting itself as a coiled hair strand causing a bump and redness on the skin. This could cause infections in extreme cases, however, it can be treated over a period of time. In order to understand how to deal with ingrown hair, the most vital step is to understand what causes it and how to prevent it. Once treated, it can recur in a short time, thus, dealing with it prior to secondary infections is the smartest move to make.  Broken hair shafts or bruised skin due to shaving can cause the hair to get harder and sharper than usual. It can bend back into the skin, embedding itself in the surface beneath. Sometimes, if the hair is curly, it tends to curl back and into the skin. Ingrown hair can also be causes by excessive shaving, especially the direction of hair growth is tampered with. Sometimes, other skin conditions may develop with similar symptoms of rashes and pus. This should not be mistaken for ingrown hair. If there is any sever swelling, pus or skin irritation, please consult the doctor immediately. Do not take chances with self diagnosis. If it is just a strand of hair that has sharply penetrated your skin and you can see it, then you can deal with it yourself. Ingrown hair is an indication of being rough on your skin or not following a proper skin care routine. Most of the time, women tend to shave their legs and hands very aggressively. This causes the skin to break. Moreover, they shave too often. Shaving very often and very close to the skin is harmful. It can cause blisters, infections and other issues while increasing the chances of ingrown hair.

 

Dealing with ingrown hair:

The best way to stay away from ingrown hair is to understand the cause and deal with it. Start following a proper skin routine and maintain high standards of hygiene, to avoid skin infections. This includes observation of the prone area, and application of mild gels and lotions to keep it soft. Occasionally, use a porous stone gently on your skin. This can be accompanied by a body scrub that helps to soften the skin and remove any ingrown hair. Repeat this process not more than twice a week. A great way of avoiding ingrown hair can be to grow out your hair to its full capacity every few months. This way, most of the hair grows out in full form and then waxing or shaving tackles the ingrown hair easily.

You need to deal with ingrown hair with a proper method, making hasty decisions might cause even more pain.