Healthy Living

What are Ingrown Hairs: Get the Facts

What are Ingrown Hairs: Get the Facts

Key Takeaways

  • While using a double-edged razor or even a simple razor, shaving against the natural flow of the beard tugs at the skin, cutting the shaft of hair slightly below the opening of the pore. 
  • Hair that grows into the skin creates a raised, bulb-like projection that rapidly fills with blood and pus following infection. 
  • There is no cure for ingrown hair, but its growth can be checked. If, however, ingrown hair occurs frequently, permanent hair removal through electrolysis or laser therapy may be considered. 

Sometimes hair avoids its normal growth path, curls tightly and digs deeper into the skin, piercing its own follicle or surrounding tissue.  It is usually brought on by incorrect shaving techniques and forceful removal of hair on faces, armpits, genital area and legs. The hair grows into the skin and creates a raised bulb-like projection that rapidly fills with blood and pus following infection. The skin reddens and appears inflamed. Swelling may also cause discomfort and pain.

 

They are benign

Ingrown hair might be unsightly and can be extremely uncomfortable at times, but they aren’t harmful in most cases.

You have to definitely get rid of your ingrown hair, but you don’t have to worry that it is going to harm your health in any way.

An improper or skin peeling shave is the culprit in majority of cases

While using a double edged razor or even a simple razor, shaving against the natural flow of the beard tugs at the skin cutting the shaft of hair slightly below the opening of the pore. The broken shaft, instead of emerging outward grows into the surrounding tissue going sideways. The skin tissue treats such hair like a foreign body that needs to be eliminated. The immune reaction causes swelling and inflammation, often resulting in infection and pus accumulation.

Dry skin exacerbates ingrown hairs

Shaving over skin that is excessively dry, or shaving not followed up by moisturizing and cleansing routines, encourage drying and thickening of the upper layers of skin in the shaved area. The accumulation of caked dead skin cells at the mouth of the follicle further pressurizes hair to grow inward. Another reason for ingrown hair is waxing which creates a tugging impact often breaking shafts within the follicle. Prolonged wearing of very tight and body hugging outfits like spandex can also encourage hairs to grown inward. People with eczema and dermatitis genetically ingrained in their family tree are also more susceptible to ingrowths.

People most prone to developing ingrown hairs

The phenomenon of ingrowing hairs is most common in Afro-American people as their hair is generally stringy and extremely curled. Curly hair is more vulnerable to ingrowth, especially as shaving too close to the skin damages follicles, trapping improperly cut hair within. It is also noticed in teenagers and adolescents that are exposed to an excessive hormonal imbalance which aggravates acne.

 

They are known to be more common in dark skin.

For some unknown reason, people who have darker skin are more likely to have to deal with ingrown hair. The reason for this cause has not been understood completely. But one of the reason could be that curly and coarse hair types are common in people with dark skin, that could be the cause since they result in ingrown hair more often.

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

There is no cure for ingrown hair but its growth can be checked

  1. After swabbing the area with disinfectant, use a sharp needle to pop the bump at its tip to drain away blood and pus cells. The exposed hair can then be removed using pointed tweezers.
  2. Shave gently leaving a tiny portion of the hair shaft emerging from the follicle as this prevents hair from curving inwards.
  3. Ready the skin for hair removal by steaming the area or having a hot shower. This leaves the skin moist and supple for shaving.
  4. Use moisturizers and cleansers (more natural and organic, the better) liberally and do not permit skin to dry up or become scaly.
  5. Use creams and lotions that contain salicylic acid.  This has a deep cleansing effect and removes only the upper layers of dead cells allowing skin to rejuvenate.

Handling the worst-case ingrown hair scenarios

If the ingrowths recur frequently and remain chronic for longer periods, the best option would be enduring hair removal using electrolysis or laser therapy. In these techniques, tiny electrical impulses or beams of laser energy are directed at hair follicles to weaken and permanently damage them. The hair in the treated area fails to grow and you are rid of the menace of ingrown hairs at last for a six-month duration. 

 

Home remedies for ingrown hair :

As mentioned earlier, there is no cure for ingrown hair. It is only possible to decrease the occurrence of ingrown hairs. The easiest way to do this is through proper hair and skin hygiene.

Hydrate and soften both the skin and the hair before shaving. This can result in a duller, rounded tip to the hair, which decreases the likelihood for the hair to reenter the skin.

Use a moistened washcloth, a wet sponge, or a soft-bristled toothbrush with a mild soap to wash the beard or hair for several minutes via a circular motion to help dislodge stubborn tips.

Some natural mild exfoliators, such as salt and sugar, can be applied to treat the redness or irritation that comes with the ingrown hair.

Do not shave against the direction or grain of the hair growth.

Get a pair of tweezers: Before shaving or waxing, you can take a pair of sterile tweezers and lift out the ingrown hair. Just pull out the hair and bring it to the surface. Nevertheless, if you have a sensitive skin, it might be best to stay away from this method.

Ingrown hair can cause a lot of distress to a person and seeking medical advice is of the essence. For this, a person should go to the doctor’s and get it treated as soon as possible so that the issue is curbed and dealt with.