Just like the stem of the plants and trees have roots, our hair has follicles. The hair follicles are present below the skin surface. Usually, from the follicle, the hair grows outwards, penetrating the skin layer. In mammals, the hair evolved to offer protection from the Sun’s UV rays and harsh climatic conditions. But at times, the hair can grow sideways from the follicle, instead of coming out from the skin. Such hair is known as ingrown hair. It initially looks like a red bump. If scratched much, it becomes like a boil-sore and is painful. Even pus can form in the cracks, and the underlying hair is visible. It can also harden to form a cyst.
Causes of Ingrown Hair
The leading cause of ingrown hair is improper hair removal techniques. For example, shaving and waxing might leave the hair near the skin sharp. They can poke into the skin and grow inwards. Even threading and plucking of hair could be the reason. The ingrown hair can occur naturally if the outer skin has layers of dead cells and dirt. The pores of the follicles get clogged, and the hair is unable to come out through the skin. They are more common in people with curly or rough hair. High levels of sex hormones can also cause ingrown hair. These hormones lead to excessive hair growth and increase the density of hair. So, the new hair may not have enough space to come outside.
Is the Ingrown Hair Dangerous?
Ingrown hair is itchy and painful. But mostly the condition heals on its own. It is okay to get one or two of them occasionally. One should go for treatments if there is a bacterial infection along with the bumps. Also, you should check if you are getting the ingrown hair often. It implies that the cause may be the presence of dead skin on the surface. It could lead to the darkening of the skin and permanent scarring. In the case of the scalp, it destroys the hair follicle and results in permanent hair loss.
Treatment for Ingrown Hair
You need to seek medical help if it is very painful, or the bump is persistent and increases in size. If the ingrown hair is near the skin surface, then the doctors can remove it using sterilized needles. They might also give steroids to reduce irritation. One has to take antibiotics in the form of tablets or ointments if there is an infection.
Prevention of Ingrown Hair
The natural occurrence of ingrown hair is rare. It implies we can do away with by taking some extra care of our skin. Below are the measures to prevent them altogether:
1. Shaving Precautions
Shaving your skin with razors is the number one reason for ingrown hair. So, first of all, you should change your blades frequently. If you feel them harsh on your skin, then it is time for a new one. Wet the area where you wish to shave. It helps in the smooth cutting of the hair. Use the razor in the direction of hair growth. If you cut in the opposite direction, then you might leave more sharp hair on the skin. Do not shave too close to the surface of the skin. Cut the hair in few strokes, and do not go for multi-blade razors. Rinse the razor after every shave as the cut hair on the blade might reduce its sharpness. Men can go for trimmers to sport a well-groomed beard and shave less often. Women can opt for other methods of hair removal.
You must apply moisturizers, after-shave balms, and exfoliators. One product that serves all three purposes is PFB Vanish. With roll-on PFB Vanish, ingrown hair can be eliminated.
2. Prevent Ingrown Hair While Waxing
You should exfoliate the skin before and after waxing. Before waxing, you can have grainy scrubs as exfoliators. Get the waxing done at a professional place, where they follow all directions and do not harm the skin carelessly. When doing at home, be gentle, and do not hurry. Exfoliate the skin after a day of waxing with chemical exfoliators. It helps the hair to grow in the right direction. Do not wear tight-fitting clothes after waxing. They can constrict the skin and lead to ingrown hair. Use warm water to wash and cleanse the waxed skin. Go for sugaring, if you find waxing harsh on the skin. As one applies the sugaring paste in the direction of hair growth, there is less chance for breaking of hair.
3. Precautions With Epilators and Tweezers
First of all, take care that the device is in good condition. Prep the skin well, and keep it taut while using the tweezers. Post-epilation, use skin toners as they help to keep the bacteria at bay. Do not have the tweezers very close to the skin. Don’t remove hair that is too short. For facial hair and eyebrows, one can apply baby powder to make them visible. You must do the tweezing in a well-lit place. Keep your skin clean and moisturized.
4. Home Remedies for Ingrown Hair
As the ingrown hair does not cause much harm and goes off on their own, you need not go to a doctor the moment you notice them. You can prevent infection and pigmentation by taking a few measures. First, you have to stop removing hair from the affected area. Go for gentle compressions instead. You can use a wet cloth for the same. Cleanse and remove the dead skin regularly. Tea tree oil is best for preventing infections. Make a paste by mixing sugar and honey or olive oil. Use it as a natural exfoliator. One can even use baking soda and water mixture for avoiding inflammations.
Keeping your skin healthy and free of infections is your responsibility. Remember that it is not meant for good appearance alone. The skin protects the internal organs. It also keeps a check on bacteria and other microbes. Do not always try to hide the flaws by using makeup products.