Ingrown Hair

Ingrown hair shaving

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

Overview of ingrown hair

People habituated to shaving, waxing or using tweezers on a regular basis face multiple problems of the hair and skin. One such problem is “Ingrown hair”. This not only inhibits the growth of new hair in future but also elicits an inflammatory response at the site of occurrence. The global statistics produced by the Board-Certified Dermatologists of the Laguna Skin Center, United States show that nearly 60% of men of African American origin have the problem of ingrown hair. Ingrown hair issues are more common in people having very rough and coarse hair. These hairs lead to a number of skin problems as well. Proper shaving techniques and hygiene habits related to hair removal are essential for eliminating the problems of ingrown hair.

 

What is ingrown hair?

Ingrown hair diagramIngrown hair is a medical condition wherein a single or multiple strands of hair are trapped within a hair follicle. But even in this condition, the hair continues to grow. This causes the hair to curl back and grow inside the hair follicle. This leads to severe pain and inflammation.

Ingrown hair is often associated with a condition called “Folliculitis”. In this condition, infection and inflammation of the hair follicles occur. The infected hair follicles gradually develop into pus-filled reddish-yellow lesions. Multiple hair follicles in a particular area of the skin (at the site of ingrown hair) are affected in folliculitis. Ingrown hair and folliculitis occur mostly in the armpits, buttocks, arms, and legs. In many cases, Folliculitis is precipitated by the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus.

The epidemiological statistics by the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology establish that nearly 30% of the world’s healthy population carry the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria in their skin. The skin types and the hair types are the determinants of ingrown hair and folliculitis.

 

Causes and risk factors of ingrown hair

Ingrown hair is typically caused by the reverse growth of hair within the hair follicles. The common precipitating factors of growing these types of hairs are described below-

  • Curled or curved hair that grows in the opposite direction (with respect to the normal direction of hair-growth) within a particular hair follicle
  • Hair that emerges from one hair follicle and enters another hair follicle
  • Repeated friction caused at the root of the hair follicles due to regular shaving, waxing and hair removal
  • Accumulation of dead skin cells after hair removal
  • Trapped hair within a papule (caused after shaving or waxing) that is prevented from growing outwards by the papule
  • Irregular or uneven break of hair due to a sharp object (tweezers)
  • Wearing very tight and poorly aerated outfits (obstructs hair growth and causes accumulation of sweat)
  • Clogging of sweat glands due to excessive sweating or accumulation of dirt at the tip of the sweat glands and hair follicles
  • Existing skin infection that causes the formation of lumps and bumps on the skin which obstructs normal hair growth
  • Using infected razors, tweezers or wax-strips
  • Using same razors, tweezers or other equipment for hair removal for a long time
  • Improper shaving or hair-removal techniques (incorrect angle of motion or improper holding of the equipment)
  • Having curly, coiled and coarse hair
  • Bacterial infection (mediated by Staphylococcus aureus)
  • Abnormal curvature of the hair follicles
  • Presence of breaks in the epidermis that allow the freshly cut and sharp-edged hair follicles to re-enter the skin

 

What are the main symptoms of an ingrown hair?

Ingrown hair infectedIngrown hair is not visible from outside. It is found only after diagnosis. A few associated symptoms may help one to detect the presence of these types of hairs-

  • Pain and inflammation at the site of occurrence of ingrown hair
  • Redness of surrounding skin
  • Irritation and constant itching of the affected region
  • Formation of papules in and around the location of ingrown hair
  • Discharge of pus from papules and lesions
  • Fusion of individual papules to form carbuncles
  • An area or a patch of skin where normal hair-growth is disturbed
  • Occasional bleeding from the affected skin

 

Different types of ingrown hair

According to the direction of growth, ingrown hair can be classified into two types-

  • Extrafollicular hair: These are the freshly-cut, sharp-edged hairs which re-enter the skin surface and remain embedded within the skin.
  • Transfollicular hair: This type of ingrown haircuts into the hair follicle in a transverse manner and remains embedded. It causes severe pain and inflammation.

Ingrown hair shavingA classification of folliculitis is presented below-

  • Sycosis barbae: This occurs in the beard-covered region of men. In some cases, it affects the upper lip as well. It results in the change in the texture of the skin, accompanied by burning and itching sensation. Tiny papules and pustules appear at the base of the hair follicles after a certain time.
  • Hot-tub folliculitis: This is common in people who use hot water regularly for bathing. The high temperature favors the growth of the Staphylococcus.Chances of bacterial infection are more if the water is not clean and good for use (lack of chlorine treatment).
  • Gram-negative folliculitis: This occurs after one treats an acne infection with antibiotics.
  • Pseudo-folliculitis: It is characterized by conditions that are similar to folliculitis. Tiny reddish lumps (without pus) form at the root of the hair follicles where ingrown hair is present. It is very common in Afro-Caribbean men.

Based on the degree of infection, folliculitis can be classified into the following categories-

  • Localised folliculitis: In this case, the papules and pustules affect only a small area of the skin. They resolve easily on proper treatment.
  • Recurrent folliculitis: This occurs due to the presence of trace amount of bacteria after the first episode of folliculitis.

 

Diagnostic tests

A swab test of the affected skin is ideal for determining the exact cause of folliculitis.

 

Treatment and prevention

Treatment of ingrown hair includes:

  • In case the ingrown hair follicle has become infected, seek immediate medical help to prevent the infection from spreading further.
  • The doctor may remove the ingrown hair with the help of a sterilized needle or a scalpel.
  • Steroid medications might be prescribed to combat the bacterial infection.
  • Similarly, retinoid medications might also be prescribed to remove skin pigmentation.

Prevention of ingrown hair can be done by:

  • Gently exfoliating your skin at least 1-2 times a week.
  • Using a sharp, single blade razor.
  • Always use a lubricant or cream on your skin before shaving
  • Try to avoid multiple shavings done on the same area of the skin.
  • Once the shaving is done, apply cold water/ washcloth on the skin.

 

Facts

  • While ingrown hair can be found anywhere on the body where hair grows, these are most commonly found in areas such as the armpits, legs, and the face (where the hair is coarse).

Facts

  • Certain studies indicate that these are more common among people with a darker skin tone and those who have naturally curly hair.
  • If ingrown hair is picked with a sharp object, it can become infected.

Facts

  • Ingrown hair is not related to hygiene at all, contrary to popular myth.
  • The medical term for ingrown hair caused by too close shaving is pseudofolliculitis.

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Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • If the ingrown hair area becomes itchy or sore apply diluted baking soda or tea tree oil to soothe the skin.
  • Exfoliate your skin gently 1-2 times every week to get rid of ingrown hairs.
  • Use warm water compresses and sterilized tweezers to remove them, if need arises.
Don'ts
  • Resort to squeezing the red bumps on the skin caused by ingrown hair. This can make them infected.
  • Wear too tight clothes or inner wear.
  • Use the same razor for more than 7-10 times. Keep renewing razors frequently.

 

 

 

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Thyroid Profile Thyroid profile is a panel of blood tests performed to check if an individual is suffering from any…
ureteroscopy
Ureteroscopy Ureteroscopy is the diagnostic procedure which is used for the detection of the kidney stones in addition to…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Hepatitis A virus infected liver
Hepatitis A Virus (HAV) Total Blood test to look for IgM antibodies to know if you are infected with Hepatitis A virus (HAV),…
lose weight fast
12 easy and instant steps to successful weight loss Do you want to lose weight without losing your mind? Does weight loss always mean saying goodbye to…
L-theanine attention
L-Theanine: Better sleep, higher focus, and many other benefits Did you know that L-theanine found in green tea can make you sleep better and be focused at…
nutritional yeast bread
Nutritional Yeast : How can a fungi culture be good for your body? Nutritional yeast: How a simple culture of fungi can transform your skin, digestion, immunity , and much more.…
Moringa drink
Moringa: This could be the most nutrient-dense food known to us! Moringa is a lush green tree brimming with over 90 essential nutrients required for a healthy mind and…
How seitan proved to be a blessing in disguise for vegans worldwide Can only meat-eaters enjoy delicious juicy steaks and burgers? With seitan, the best meat substitute available today,even vegans…
General adaptation syndrome: Understanding stress, one step at a time The struggle of the body to produce hormones during a stressful situation is the main theme of general…
EEG
Electroencephalogram – EEG EEG or electroencephalogram is a diagnostic tool used to access the functioning of neurons and brain activity to…
Chest X-Ray A chest x-ray is a diagnostic test that uses x-rays to visualize the structures inside your chest. It…
phenytoin test
Phenytoin test Phenytoin is a drug that is administered mainly to epilepsy patients. The phenytoin blood test measures the level…
Rubella IgM test
Rubella IgM Test The Rubella IgM test is a blood test that is performed to diagnose the presence of the rubella…
HSV-1_IGG
Herpes Simplex Virus I (HSV)-IgG Test Herpes simplex virus I(HSV)-IgG is an Immunoglobulin protein that acts as an antibody & stays in the blood…
AHBC Igm
Anti-Hepatitis B Core Antigen (AHBc) IgM Anti-hepatitis B core antigen (AHBC) IgM is an investigative procedure to detect the presence of IgM antibodies in…
piles fissure fistula
Allopathy vs homeopathy vs ayurveda treatment for piles, fissures, and fistula Read to know the best form of treatment among allopathy, homeopathy,or ayurveda for piles, fissures, and fistula
alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of cold beer add…
sleep deprivation
Don’t let your sleep deficit grow into memory loss or heart attack Why is sleep important for us? How could sleep deprivation harm you? We bet you didn't know about…
Jack in the box fast food
Jack In the Box : The perils of surging fast food culture in the USA Jack in the Box - How a culture of fast-food can clog your arteries, weaken your heart, fatten…
improve digestion weight loss
Power up your gut: 8 proven steps on how to improve your digestion Did you know you have a colony of bacteria in your gut that help you in digesting food?…
Find all the instant ways to get rid of blackheads Blackheads - Not only are they aesthetically unappealing but if left untreated these can cause bacterial overgrowth on…
Oxalates: How healthy greens can sometimes be bad news for your kidneys Oxalates are compounds present in a majority of healthy foods. However, at times an overconsumption of these could…
Sciatica pain relief: Get rid of the pain with these easy daily tips Researchers have claimed that not only heat but icing the area too helps relieve sciatica pain. Find out…
Inversion Therapy: The anti-gravity way of healing chronic back pain Inversion therapy involves suspending a person upside dow using different types of equipment. This works by taking the…