Ingrown Hair (cont.)
Nili N. Alai, MD, FAAD
Dr. Alai is an actively practicing medical and surgical dermatologist in south Orange County, California. She has been a professor of dermatology and family medicine at the University of California, Irvine since 2000. She is U.S. board-certified in dermatology, a 10-year-certified fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, and Fellow of the American Society of Mohs Surgery.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Ingrown hair facts
- What is an ingrown hair?
- What causes an ingrown hair?
- Who develops ingrown hairs?
- What are symptoms and signs of an ingrown hair?
- Are ingrown hairs the same as razor bumps or pseudofolliculitis?
- Are there any home remedies for an ingrown hair?
- What is the treatment for an ingrown hair?
- Do ingrown hairs affect the entire body?
- How is an ingrown hair diagnosed?
- Does diet have anything to do with ingrown hairs?
- What else could an ingrown hair look like?
- Can ingrown hairs be prevented?
- Find a local Dermatologist in your town
Are ingrown hairs the same as razor bumps or pseudofolliculitis?
One type of ingrown hair is pseudofolliculitis barbae, also called "razor bumps," in which five to 40 small red bumps appear on the beard area (lower face and neck) and may flare with repeat shaving. Razor bumps are commonly experienced by African-American men, especially those who shave frequently. Flesh-colored red bumps with a hair shaft in their center are seen in shaved areas adjacent to the hair follicle opening. Pustules and abscesses may occasionally form, especially if there are bacteria on the skin. In chronic or inadequately treated situations, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, scarring, and rare keloid formation may occur. This skin condition is mostly seen in darker skin or African skin with facial hair because of the curvature of these patients' hair follicles.
Are there any home remedies for an ingrown hair?
Although no cure exists, it is 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 hairs 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.
- Avoid shaving too closely to the skin.
- When using electric razors, some shaving techniques may help prevent ingrown hair. Keep the head of the electric razor slightly off the surface of the skin and shave in a slow, circular motion. Pressing the razor too close to the skin or pulling the skin taut can result in too close of a shave.
- Leave very short 1-2 mm stubble with shaving to help reduce the tendency of shaving too closely. These shaving techniques can avoid creating a sharp tip when shaving and prevent hair from reentering the skin by leaving slightly longer stubble.
- Another way to prevent ingrown hairs is by avoiding shaving and allowing hair to grow naturally.
- Carefully use a sterile needle and alcohol wipe to dislodge stubborn ingrown hairs or use tweezers to gently tease the hair out of the skin. However, this is usually not recommended in that these procedures may be too aggressive and cause further damage to the skin.
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