Ingrown hair is a common problem which causes hair to grow back into the skin after shaving or tweezing. This normally results in inflammation and irritation and can affect in people with tightly coiled hair and shave, wax or pluck their hair. Electrolysis to remove the hair can also cause ingrown hair.
Ingrown hair may cause a localized pain along with bumps in the area where hair has been removed. The bumps are usually just embarrassing for many people.
You can avoid ingrown hair by not removing your hair at all. However, if this cannot be avoided, you can consider alternative air removing methods that may have a lower risk of ingrown hairs.
People with tightly curled hair are most susceptible to ingrown hairs; therefore, the condition is mostly common in blacks and Hispanics.
Signs and symptoms
Ingrown hair is common in men in the beard region, which includes the cheeks, chin and the neck. Men who shave their heads may have it in their scalp. In females, ingrown hair is common in areas such as the armpits, the pubic regions and the legs.
Signs and symptoms of ingrown hair include:
- Tiny, solid bumps
- Small pus-filled lesions
- Darkening of the skin, also known as hyperpigmentation
- Embedded hair
When to seek medical attention
If ingrown hair is occasional; it is not a cause for concern.
See a doctor if:
- Ingrown hair is chronic. Your doctor may be able to help to control the problem
- Excessive unwanted hair growth results in ingrown hair, if you are a woman. In this case, the doctor will most probably determine the cause of the condition and treatment.
In order to prevent ingrown hairs, the best method is to stop methods of hair removal such as shaving, plucking or waxing hair. If you really have to remove hair, it is better if you consider laser treatment for hair removal, which will remove the hair from deeper within the hair follicles to prevent re-growth more effectively. However, it may take several treatments until you can inhibit growth completely.
Medications may be prescribed by your health care provider if ingrown hair is too bothersome for you. Retinoids may be prescribed by your doctor to help remove dead skin cells from the skin surface. Retinoids can also help relieve thickening and hyperpigmentation of the affected regions of the skin that often occurs on dark skin that is susceptible to ingrown hairs.
Corticosteroids may be prescribed as well to control inflammation of the skin.
Topical antibiotics can help prevent infection that is causing by excessive scratching of the affected regions. For more severe infections, oral antibiotics may be prescribed.