What Is An Ingrown Hair?

Ingrown hair is a condition where the hair curls back or grows sideways into the skin. It may or may not be accompanied by an infection of the hair follicle (folliculitis) or "razor bumps" (Pseudofolliculitis barbae), which vary in size. While ingrown hair most commonly appears in areas where the skin is shaved (beard, legs, pubic region), it can appear anywhere.

Anything which causes the hair to be broken off short with a sharp tip can cause ingrown hair. Shaving is the leading cause, followed by tight clothing. The embedded hair causes a localized inflammation (sometimes painful) response in the skin. Sometimes ingrown hair occurs naturally without shaving.

Symptoms include rash, itching skin, hair which remains in spite of shaving, and infection and pus collecting under skin. Treatments for ingrown hairs include putting a warm washcloth over the ingrown hair, shaving in a different direction, exfoliating with facial scrubs, sponges, towels, or creams containing acids, treatment with Ibuprofen and prophylaxis with twice daily topical application of diluted Glycolic acid. Ingrown hair will often fall out after a couple of weeks. See more specific examples & information below.

Types of Ingrown Hairs

Superficial Ingrown Hair:

One of the most common types primarily found on the legs, more specifically on the lower legs. I refer to this ingrown hair as superficial because the hair is not embedded deep within the epidermis. Releasing it is relatively simple.

Cause: Generally, the superficial ingrown occurs from a lack of exfoliation.

Solution: Regular exfoliation. Using massage gloves at shower and bath time will help to release and prevent ingrown hairs.

Dormant Ingrown:

Usually found on the lower legs, these types of ingrowns lay parallel to the skin and are often too deep to remove. Generally, they dissolve in time. Dormant ingrowns can be lanced by a physician.

Cause: The natural direction of the follicle has been disrupted and/or the skin type has keratinized at a faster rate and in a tighter, surging pattern. The skin tends to feel like very tight, smooth leather. This skin type makes it more challenging to remove the hair because the mouth of the follicle forms tightly around the hairıs shaft.

Solution: The #1 skin solution is regular exfoliation of the skin combined with removing the hair in the natural direction of growth. (Shave in the direction of hair growth, not against it)

The J-Peg Ingrown:

This is a hair inside the follicle, which begins to curl back down into the skin as it grows and attempts to either pass through the accumulated dead skin cells covering the mouth of the follicle or through an opening that does not exist. As a direct result, it creates a bump and can cause some discomfort until the hair is released. Generally, this type does not become infected when it develops in areas other than the face or bikini.

Cause: Lack of exfoliation and skin softening. The reason why this ingrown becomes infected is the natural direction of the follicle has been disrupted.

Solution: Epilating a hair in the natural direction of growth far exceeds the benefits of removing it against the natural direction of growth. A good home regimen of exfoliating and hydrating the skin will allow one to free their own follicles of accumulated dead skin cells, thus preventing the hair to become ingrown.

The Bikini Ingrown Hair:

These ingrown hairs most often look like little black dots or pinkish-red bumps. Thatıs if they are not infected. Then there are those that look like purplish-red bumps which can actually become cystic.

The pressure from the hair growing inside the bump along with infection (pus and blood accumulation) can cause much discomfort until the hair is released. Iıve seen a hair as long as 2² released from this type of ingrown.

Cause #1: Lack of exfoliation and removing the hair in the opposite direction of the natural pattern of growth. When hair is removed in the opposite direction of growth, often, the hair is broken off at the skinıs surface allowing dead skin cells to easily form over the mouth of the follicle trapping the broken hair beneath. As the hair continues to grow, a red bump quickly develops and can often leaves the skin feeling itchy and uncomfortable. The one characteristic all ingrown hairs have is dead skin cells blocking the mouth of the follicle.

Cause #2: Lack of hydrating and moisturizing the newly exfoliated epidermis. I have seen so many women make the mistake of applying lotion to their skin only when it has a dry sallow look to it. The idea is to apply a good hydrating lotion when the skin looks great so that it keeps on looking its best.

Cause #3: Some people are highly prone to ingrown hairs. Their skin tends to keratinize at a much faster rate than the average person.

Solution: Removal of the hair in the natural growth only. Regular exfoliation, softening the skin and hydrating on a daily basis. A regular electrolysis regime will help to achieve maximum results.

Treatment Program:

The following are four recommendations that will help eliminate and prevent ingrown hair problems.

  1. Drink plenty of water daily. We are all too familiar with this fact. Drink as much water as you can each day for maximum hydration.

  2. Use a hydrating lotion everyday. Lotions containing animal or petroleum by-products should be avoided. They can clog pores and cause many other reflecting complications to the skin.

  3. Exfoliate dead skin cells. Using Dead Sea salt mixed with cured sesame seed oil to massage onto the skin is an uncomplicated exfoliating option for all skin types. The results are excellent, lasting at least two weeks and leave an immediately visible impression.

  4. Epilate the hair in the natural direction of the follicle. When hair is removed against its natural direction, you will have hair breakage and you will promote ingrown hairs.

  5. If you are prone to getting serious ingrown hairs you may need to use a glycolic-based lotion to promote addition exfoliation.


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