You shave your body hair to get smooth, sexy skin. Then you see it. An ingrown hair.
Don’t freak out just yet – your quest for smooth skin is still reachable. Read more about how ingrown hairs work, how to treat one, and the best methods for preventing ingrowing hairs.
What is an Ingrown Hair?
Ingrown hairs occur when a hair curls back and grows into the skin instead of out of it. Excess dirt or oil in a hair follicle can also cause ingrown hairs.
Who Can Get an Ingrown Hair?
Anyone can get an ingrown hair, but it’s more common in these types of people:
People Who Shave Their Body Hair
Shaving is a common cause of ingrown hairs. It irritates your skin and your hair follicles, causing some hairs to curl back toward their roots. If you have dead skin cells or dirt on your skin, shaving can also push these irritants into your hair follicles.
People with Thick Hair
Thick hair means hair follicles crowd your skin. There’s almost more hair than there is space, causing some hairs to grow inward and cause irritation.
People with Curly Hair
Because hairs curling toward the skin are a leading cause of ingrown hairs, those with naturally curly hair are especially susceptible.
How to Spot an Ingrown Hair
Not sure if that spot is actually an ingrown hair? Look for these symptoms:
Ingrown hairs cause uncomfortable pain and irritation. You may feel a dull pain where the hair is or notice a sharp pain if you accidentally touch it.
The irritation from an ingrown hair usually makes the area unusually red. This inflammation can make the area stand out from the rest of your skin.
Some ingrown hairs are itchy. They can even form rash-like, itchy patches of little red bumps on your skin.
In addition to the redness, an ingrown hair can also take on a pimple-like appearance. Bacteria builds up around the hair like it builds up in a pimple. It can even look like there is a whitehead on top of the usual red bump.
Visible Hair Under the Skin
This is the most obvious sign that you have an ingrown hair and not a zit. Look at the spot closely. If you see a hair under your skin, you have your answer.
Treating Ingrown Hairs
Treating an ingrown hair is like treating a zit. Salicylic acid, which you can find in most acne medications, can also treat an ingrown hair. Witch hazel and azulene are also common treatments.
You may feel tempted to pluck the hair out completely. However, this can cause the hair to grow even deeper. Instead, use tweezers to carefully pluck the end of the hair out from under your skin, leaving the root of the hair where it is.
When you treat ingrown hairs, make sure you check for signs of infection. If the area is extremely swollen, very painful, or oddly colored, you may want to check with your doctor. They can prescribe special creams or oral antibiotics to fight the infection.
Your Guide to Preventing Ingrown Hairs
Treat the ingrown hairs you have, then follow a plan for prevention. Start with these simple steps:
Prep Your Skin by Exfoliating
Exfoliating your skin gets rid of excess dead skin and oils. If you left these on your skin, they could clog up your hair follicles and cause ingrown hairs. Especially if you shave, remember to exfoliate beforehand.
Many people think they need to hold their skin taut to get a good shave. This can increase your risk of developing ingrown hairs. Try reducing how hard you press and shave with the grain. Rinsing your razor after every stroke is also a good way to prevent ingrown hairs.
Try Other Methods of Hair Removal
Waxing usually results in fewer ingrown hairs than shaving. You could also use depilatory creams that dissolve hairs. If you want to permanently get rid of your body hair, consider laser hair removal.
Preventing Ingrown Hairs and How To Stay Smooth
Using these methods, you can get the smooth skin of your dreams. Your skincare routine may get a little more complicated, but it’s worth it to prevent those stubborn, painful ingrown hairs.
Read more about skincare and health to add some wellness to your lifestyle.