Ingrown Hair

What is Ingrown Hair

Ingrown hair is a hair that curls and re-enters the skin instead of growing straight out of the skin. An ingrown hair can develop in any part of the skin that hair is removed from. An ingrown hair may cause small pockets of infection.

What are the causes?

An ingrown hair can be caused by:

  • Shaving.
  • Tweezing.
  • Waxing.
  • Using a hair removal cream.

What increases the risk?

Ingrown hairs are more likely to develop in people who have curly hair.

What are the signs or symptoms?

Symptoms of an ingrown hair may include:

  • Small bumps on the skin. The bumps may be filled with pus.
  • Pain.
  • Itching.

How is this diagnosed?

An ingrown hair is diagnosed with a skin exam.

How is this treated?

Treatment is often not needed unless the ingrown hair has caused an infection. Treatment may involve:

  • Applying prescription creams to the skin. This can help with inflammation.
  • Applying warm compresses to the skin. This can help soften the skin.
  • Taking antibiotic medicine. An antibiotic may be prescribed if the infection is severe.

Follow these instructions at home:

  • Do not shave irritated areas of skin. You may start shaving these areas again once the irritation has gone away.
  • Take, apply, or use over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your health care provider. This includes any prescription creams.
  • If you were prescribed an antibiotic medicine, take it as told by your health care provider. Do not stop taking the antibiotic even if your condition improves.
  • To help remove ingrown hairs on your face, you may use a facial sponge in a gentle circular motion.
  • If directed, apply heat to the affected area. Use the heat source that your health care provider recommends, such as a moist heat pack or a heating pad.
    • Place a towel between your skin and the heat source.
    • Leave the heat on for 20–30 minutes.
    • Remove the heat if your skin turns bright red. This is especially important if you are unable to feel pain, heat, or cold. You may have a greater risk of getting burned.

How is this prevented?

  • Shower before shaving.
  • Wrap areas that you are going to shave in warm, moist wraps for several minutes before shaving. The warmth and moisture helps to soften the hairs and makes ingrown hairs less likely.
  • Use thick shaving gels.
  • Use a razor that cuts hair slightly above your skin. Or, use an electric shaver with a long shave setting.
  • Shave in the direction of hair growth.
  • Avoid making multiple razor strokes.
  • Apply a moisturizing lotion after shaving.
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