Have you ever waxed your bikini line only to find tons of painful, itchy little bumps the next day? What about tiny, raised dark spots on your legs after shaving? Well, you probably had ingrown hair.
Ingrown hair is hair that grows back into the skin after shaving, tweezing, waxing, or electrolysis. Girls tend to get ingrown hairs on their legs, armpits, and pubic area.
So here’s what happens: After shaving, your hair is broken off unevenly. As the hair grows back, it curls into the skin. The results vary from raised pus-filled bumps to skin darkening at the follicle (hair) site. Sometimes you can easily see the hair that’s causing the problem. Ingrown hairs can become infected, which causes inflammation and irritation. This sounds familiar if you’ve ever had razor burn after shaving your bikini line.
Anyone can develop ingrown hairs, but people with curly or coarse hair are more susceptible That means if you’re Black or Latina, you may be at higher risk. You’re also at risk if you wear tight clothing like tight pants or tights. While ingrown hairs aren’t dangerous, they can be annoying and embarrassing. They can disappear on their own, but if it becomes infected it can leave a permanent scar.
So if you have ingrown hairs, you probably want to know how to get rid of them. First things first: Don’t carelessly pick at it. Seriously, don’t. I’ve had to learn this the hard way and it only resulted in skin discoloration.
Ingrown hairs can be treated in a number of ways. Gentle exfoliation of the site of the ingrown hair will help remove dead skin cells, dirt, or oils that are trapping the hair into the skin. Do this twice a day to encourage the hair to break the surface of your skin. You can also apply a warm washcloth to the ingrown hair. The warmth will encourage the skin to loosen up and allow the ingrown hair to break the surface of the skin. Applying alcohol or acid based topical solutions, like salicilic acid or benzoyl peroxide, can also treat an ingrown hair. If those two ingredients sound familiar, you’ve likely seen them used as a leading ingredient in acne soaps and medication.
If all of the above fails to release the hair from the skin, you can remove the hair using a sterile needle or tweezers. If you do this you should apply a warm compress to your skin first. And be careful! As tempting as it is to dig into the skin to remove the hair, this can lead to scarring and infections. And try not to pluck the hair completely, just make sure it isn’t trapped under the surface of your skin and let time do the rest.
If your ingrown hairs become infected, you can get them removed by a doctor, who will use a sterile needle and scalpel to remove the source of the infection. Your doctor may also prescribe you with oral or topical treatments.
The ultimate way to reduce your risk of developing ingrown hairs is by not removing your hair. But let’s be real, for most of us hair removal is a pretty regular occurrence. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to keep ingrown hairs at bay. Using hair removal creams reduces your risk of razor bumps. Regular exfoliation can reduce the risk of hair getting trapped under the skin. Also, if you shave make sure your skin is moisturized beforehand. Always shave in the direction that the hair is growing in and use as few strokes as possible. If your skin has a tendency to burn a little after shaving, use cool water to sooth your irritation. Aftershave balm also works wonders.
Remember to always be gentle to your skin, even when it is a (literal) pain.
Do you suffer from ingrown hairs? Have any treatments that you recommend? Tell us in the comments!