If you've ever had to deal with ingrown hairs, then you'll know just how annoying the little blighters can be, especially now that summer (fingers crossed) is making an appearance.
Rearing up on places such as your shins, your underarms and your bikini line, they occur because the hair has curled around and grown back into the skin. Like you know, this can lead to all manner of issues such as painful bumps, redness, whiteheads and even scarring. Cheers for that.
The good news is that there are lots of really useful ways to treat ingrown hairs – and prevent them from happening, in the first place. WH spoke to Dr Ioannis Liakas, Medical Director at Vie Aesthetics, who revealed his top tips for dealing with pesky ingrown hairs for good.
Why do you get ingrown hairs?
'Ingrown hairs are caused by dead skin cells blocking the hair follicles from growing outwards. As a result, hair continues to grow sideways, causing the hair to continue growing back into the skin,' explains Dr Liakas.
So, why do said dead skin cells block follicles, in the first place? 'Ingrown hair can be caused by hair removal techniques including shaving, waxing and the use of tweezers,' he adds. But that's not the sole cause. 'People with extremely curly hair can also get ingrown hairs after having their hair cut too short – the newly cut hair can curl backward and pierce the skin, growing inwards as opposed to out.'
They're not just an aesthetic issue, either. 'Ingrown hair can eventually lead to scarring and hyperpigmentation in the affected area and, in the most extreme cases, it can lead to serious skin infections (folliculitis) or the formation of cysts.'
Where do you get ingrown hairs?
Ingrown hairs typically appear in areas where you have removed hair. So, usually:
- Bikini line
- They can also appear in areas where dirt and debris has built up on the skin and is blocking the hair follicles from growing outwards
Should you pull out ingrown hairs?
As a general rule, no, it's best to leave them well alone as plucking can lead to infection.
'Ingrown hairs can be itchy and cause irritation to the skin. Furthermore, the boil-like pimples can become really sore and potentially can even become infected (a condition called folliculitis),' Dr Liakas notes.
Can you pop an ingrown hair?
Best not to. 'Under no circumstance should you attempt to pop or squeeze ingrown hairs, as this will only increase the chance of infection. Severe local skin infections can, in turn, increase the likelihood of scarring and the whole process will be very painful,' says Dr Liakas.
Do ingrown hairs go away on their own?
wondering how do ingrown hairs go away? The goods news is that yes, ingrown hairs can disappear all by themselves.
'If ingrown hairs are not causing any adverse effects and symptoms, they can be left undisturbed until eventually, they fall out on their own. By not interfering you can reduce the risk of making matters worse.'
'However, if they are painful and appear inflamed, it is important to treat them so as not to cause infection. If they are sore, you should consult a dermatologist or your GP, who can help by prescribing relevant medication to move the dead skin cells along faster and soothe the discomfort,' reveals Dr Liakas.
How do you treat ingrown hairs?
'Using a naturally grainy exfoliant is one of the best treatments for removing ingrown hairs. Exfoliation helps improve cell turnover and removal of dead skin cells whilst at the same time cleansing the affected area,' says Dr Liakas.
2. Try salicylic acid
'Find an exfoliant that contains salicylic acid. This will help to eliminate the blockages from deep beneath the skin’s surface. Salicylic acid also makes the skin more penetrable which means that, in future, hair follicles will be able to push through.
'Salicylic is also a great anti-inflammatory so should help soothe the soreness of the ingrown hair and prevent bacteria from growing in the area.
3. Get your hands on a body brush
'Body brushes are great for a number of concerns, but they can also help to prevent ingrown hairs in a similar way. By adding a body scrub into your weekly routine, you are actively encouraging cell turnover while removing any dead skin cells or sebum that can cause ingrown hairs.'
4. Apply a warm compress to the affected area
'This will help to relax the hair’s curliness, soften the ingrown hair and encourage it to come out naturally.' The NHS website also suggests holding a cool, wet cloth to your skin after shaving to reduce irritation.
5. Use a tweezer
Ok, so I know we said plucking is a no go but...
'Only when you start to see the hair coming to the skin’s surface should you attempt to draw it out by using a tweezer. Otherwise, leave the tweezing to the professionals, as you may irritate the area even more.'
6. Visit your GP or pharmacist
'If you're really concerned about an ingrown hair and are in pain, you should seek medical advice from your GP. There are topical creams and antibiotics that medical professionals can prescribe to remove ingrown hairs and prevent them from recurring in common problem areas.'
7. Use a lubricating shaving gel
Because shaving is a common cause of ingrown hairs, make sure that you prep as well as you can to reduce the risk of the issue. 'If you continue to shave, exfoliate the area beforehand and use a sharp enough razor. Try shaving in the direction that your hair naturally grows, this may seem odd but it means the hair is removed in its natural way instead of being tugged in a different direction.'
8. Opt for laser hair removal
'Avoiding shaving altogether is the best way to prevent ingrown hairs. Laser hair removal treatments such as Diolaze are great alternatives to shaving. There is no risk of getting ingrown hairs with laser hair removal because the hair follicle is being targeted at its root, not just on the surface. In the long term, laser hair removal can be more cost-effective than shaving.'
How do you get rid of an ingrown hair on your bum?
If you're dealing with little bumps on your butt then there’s nothing to be ashamed of. They can appear on places where that dead skin cells block the hair follicles.
Ultimately, the same rules apply no matter where the ingrown hair is. Try leaving it alone, but if if it's causing issues try gentle a warm compress, gentle exfoliation and salicylic acid.
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