Ingrown hairs or ingrowing hairs, it doesn’t matter what you call them but these small red bumps that appear a day or so after shaving, are an annoyance that any shaver can do without. Ingrown hairs are also known as razor bumps and are basically hair that has grown into the skin rather than grown outward as you would expect.
Although this condition is not a medical emergency, it is something you could do without and although it will grow out eventually, there are ways to both avoid getting them and solve the problem of ingrown hairs.
What Is an Ingrown Hair?
It is a familiar sight, a raised red bump or bumps that irritate the skin and look like a small spot or pimple. They often hurt just like a spot as well, and as well as irrirating and uncomfortable can be itchy as well.
As the hair basically curls back and grows into the skin, the condition affects those with naturally curly hair more than straight. Once the hair grows into the skin it produces a small raised, red pimple looking bump which may (if infected) contain pus as well (yuk).
As well as being unsightly, the bump will be red, can be painful and is very irritating too. The condition affects mainly ares that are frequently shaved such as the face, chin and beard area, areas around the neck, the chest for some, legs, buttocks and even armpits. Let’s not go-on, just remember that where you shave is more prone to ingrowing hairs. It’s not just shaving though, you can be affected using other hair removal methods such as waxing or epilating as well.
What Causes Ingrown Hair?
Anyone at anytime can find they have one of these irritating beasts, but it is more commonly found in people with very coarse or curly or coarse hair as this type of hair is more likely to re-enter the skin thanks to it’s natural curl. The problem gets worse as you remove hair by shaving , waxing, or even removing hair with tweezers. This is because the newly growing hair has a sharper edge and can curl straight back into the skin and get trapped under it’s surface.
Because of this, many black people, African-Americans, Latinos, and anyone else prone to developing thick and curly hair can develop the condition. In these particular group the ingrown hair condition is called pseudofolliculitis.
A high sex drive can also be the cause of ingrowing hairs because having a high levels of sex hormones can lead to rapid hair growth. The more hairs the more chance of one going the wrong way, especially after you have shaved.
Ingrown Hair Treatments
If you find that you have an ingrown hair, don’t panic. They will generally just go away on their own if left, but if it doesnt then it will be more prone to infection, and like a spot can end up filling with pus and if squeezed, end up leaving you with a scar.
Use a non-prescription soap, facewash or gel that contains the antibacterial agent benzoyl peroxide.
If you don’t want to wait for it to heal up by itself then a visit to your doctor could help. He or she could lance it to release the hair and infection, or prescribe antibiotics or a steroid cream. You can also apply a 1% hydrocortisone cream to reduce the inflammation.
You can remove an ingrown hair yourself using a pin (not recommended) or a pair of tweezers. If you do this make sure you do not make the situation worse by digging into the wrong areas.
If you have ingrown hairs then try not to shave too close to the skin, leave some stubble and apply a cloth cooled in water to your face after shaving to reduce irritation and inflammation.
Preventing Ingrown Hair
You can take steps to prevent the possibility of more ingrown hairs by following these tips:-
You can also try other hair removal methods that are less likely to produce ingrown hairs. Those methods include depilatory creams that dissolve the hair, and a laser or electric current (electrolysis) to permanently remove the hair follicle.
Exfoliate Your Face
It is important to get rid of any dead skin as growing hairs can get trapped underneath them. So make sure you invest in a good exfoliating scrub and exfoliate with a cloth in a circular motion to ease out ingrown hairs. By using an exfoliator product each day you will also help hairs rise to the skins surface and keep your skin nice and fresh.
Use a Shaving Cream or Gel rather than Soap
You want your shaving blade to glide nice and evenly across the skin so avoid the bar of soap if you suffer from ingrowing hairs. Shaving creams or gels are much more heavily lubricated and are able to prepare the skin better. The best products will contain good moisturising ingredients such as vitamin E, aloe vera and shea butter.
Use a sharp Razor and change Razors regulalry
We have all clung on to using a razor after the sharpness has gone and it is dull and blunt. The problem with less sharp razors is that you need to make multiple passes to cut the hairs properly which can irritate the skin and lead to ingrown hairs. So invest in a new razor or change the blades regulalry.
When shaving, wet your skin first with warm water before the shave begins, and by using a good shaving cream you will only need one pass of the razor, thereby causing less irritation to the skin. Also make sure to rinse the blade with warm/hot water after every stroke.