Ingrown Hair (cont.)
Gary W. Cole, MD, FAAD
Dr. Cole is board certified in dermatology. He obtained his BA degree in bacteriology, his MA degree in microbiology, and his MD at the University of California, Los Angeles. He trained in dermatology at the University of Oregon, where he completed his residency.
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?
- What is the treatment for an ingrown hair?
- Are there any home remedies for an ingrown hair?
- Do ingrown hairs affect the entire body?
- How do health-care professionals diagnose an ingrown hair?
- Does diet have anything to do with ingrown hairs?
- What else could an ingrown hair look like?
- Is it possible to prevent ingrown hairs?
- Find a local Dermatologist in your town
What causes an ingrown hair?
Hair that is cut short and close to the skin creates a sharp tip that can more easily pierce the skin to cause an ingrown hair. Improper shaving techniques are the major cause of ingrown hairs. Other hair-removal methods, including waxing, as well as common friction from tight clothing, may worsen the situation. Although an ingrown hair is primarily caused by improper or aggressive hair removal, it sometimes occurs naturally as too much dead skin debris blocks the hair follicle opening, causing the hair to grow sideways.
Who develops ingrown hairs?
Nearly everyone will have an ingrown hair at some time. Overall, teenagers and adults are more prone to ingrown hairs. African-American individuals with thicker, coarser tightly curling hairs tend to have the highest rate of problems with ingrown hairs.
What are symptoms and signs of an ingrown hair?
Symptoms include itch and tenderness. An ingrown hair can lead to a localized foreign-body inflammatory reaction, which causes the pinpoint red or pink bumps on the skin. Some of the bumps may be slightly red or have an accompanying light-red halo indicating inflammation. Sometimes, the curled hair can be barely visible at the center of the bump. Small pus bumps or dry red bumps are often scattered over an area that has been shaved recently. Often the bumps start a few days to weeks after hair removal and get worse as the hairs grow back.
Individuals who have ingrown hairs may experience a painful papular eruption after shaving. The upper skin layers may have some dilation of the small superficial blood vessels, which gives the skin a red or flushed appearance. Pustules may form on the ingrown hair sites due to the infection with common skin bacteria, such as Staphylococcus.
Are ingrown hairs the same as razor bumps or pseudofolliculitis?
One type of ingrown hair is pseudofolliculitis, also called "razor bumps," in which 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.
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