Ingrown hairs (also called “hair bumps”) can be a pain and difficult to combat. Anyone can have problems with ingrown hairs and nearly everyone who gets them is eager to get rid of them – but how? Here are a few tips on treatment for ingrown hairs.
Ingrown Hair Treatment: What’s An Ingrown Hair Anyway?
An ingrown hair is just what it sounds like – a hair that curls and grows into the skin’s surface, causing an unattractive and painful bump. Sometimes the bump remains entirely closed; other times you can actually see the rogue hair poking from the bump’s surface. In either case, the bump will eventually heal, sometimes leaving a mark. Shaving is a top cause of ingrown hairs; the blunting of hair ends during the cutting process is believed to encourage the hair to grow into the skin.
Ingrowns are most commonly found beneath beards, on legs, underarms and in the bikini area. This skin problem is particularly common among those with coarse or curly hair, and tends to recur again and again, leaving skin darkened and blemished.
Here are some of the top ingrown hair treatments, their pros and their cons!
1. Tweezer removal
Perhaps the cheapest – and least advised – ingrown hair treatment involves physically removing the hair. Many people use a pair of tweezers, spot the hair and carefully lift it out. This can be risky: Digging into a bump can damage the skin further at best and put one at risk for infection from dirty tweezers at worst. An infection can lead to itching, skin rashes, and puss collecting under the skin, creating new problems. Proceed with caution!
2. Topical Chemical Applications
If an ingrown hair becomes bothersome or infected a doctor can make a small cut into the skin and release the hair. The doctor may suggest topical applications of chemical exfoliators, steroids (cortisone), retinoids and antibiotics. This type of ingrown hair treatment can often cause severe skin irritation and may not fully resolve the problem.
3. Depilatory Creams
This ingrown hair treatment works by dissolving the hair at the skin’s surface. Creams have the benefit of being pretty cheap, available at most local drug stores and easy to use at home. Unfortunately, stinging is common when applying these creams, which contain strong chemicals that can really damage your skin.
Additionally, cream use can lead to burns, blisters, and itchy rashes – extremely concerning if you are using the cream on sensitive areas like your face. Most importantly, this remedy is not permanent; the follicle has not been removed from the root and the same hair can grow in on itself again.
Waxing as an ingrown hair treatment is a common remedy among people who suffer from chronic ingrown hairs. It can provide some relief – albeit temporary.
Waxing salons specializing in this ingrown hair treatment apply binding agents like wax, sugar solutions or adhesive strips to hair, apply pressure and then rip the hair out. Because the process pulls the hair out from the root, the hair tends not to grow back on itself and takes a longer time to grow back in general. Home waxing kits can produce the same effect, though they often are messier.
There are plenty of waxing drawbacks, however, including the high cost and the physical pain involved with having hair ripped from sensitive areas of your body.
Poorly trained professionals can actually remove pieces of skin while waxing. Failure by some salons to meet accepted standards for sanitary waxing, meanwhile, can also make waxing a less than ideal ingrown hair treatment.
5. Permanent Laser Hair Removal
Laser hair removal involves using laser energy to permanently alter the hair follicle, destroying its ability to produce hair. You might say this ingrown hair treatment literally goes to the root of the problem!
Over the course of several laser treatments, hair follicles shrink in size. Eventually, the hair permanently stops growing, making ingrown hair impossible. Any hair that does remain will be much finer – important because it’s the thick, coarse hair that curls back on itself most often. Most people experience 75-90 percent permanent hair reduction.
Laser hair removal is also the only ingrown hair treatment that helps to alleviate any skin discoloration caused by the ingrown hairs. Treatments are fast with minimal discomfort. Not all lasers are created equal and not all lasers are safe for all skin types. Do your research before selecting a facility. Your skin matters. Laser hair removal also costs more than many of the other ingrown hair treatment options, but patients say the results are well worth it.
Ingrown hairs can be a real pain – literally and figuratively! But you don’t have to just live with them. Take a look at the pros and cons of each ingrown hair treatment method and when you’re ready, give us a call!