Ingrown Hair

To have a hairless body OR not to have a hairless body that is the dilemma!
Anyone who as attempted body hair removal knows that the path is paved with ingrown hair, folliculitis, razor burns, and post inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

Today we will look deep into the quandary we call ingrown hair. An ingrown hair occurs when a shaved, waxed or tweezed hair grows back into the skin, causing inflammation and irritation. Ingrown hairs are more common among black males ages 14 to 25. But an ingrown hair can affect anyone with curly and tightly coiled hair who shaves, tweezes, waxes or uses electrolysis to remove hair.

Commonly ingrown hairs present with localized pain, bumps, and coiled black dots in the hair removal area. Sometimes the ingrown hair area gets infected and we see more pain with big red inflamed and infected bumps with pus and blood. Either mild or severe frankly these bumps and blemishes can be embarrassing.

Ingrown hairs most commonly appear in males in the beard area, including the chin and cheeks and, especially, the neck. They can appear on the scalp in males who shave their heads. In females, the most common areas for ingrown hairs are the armpits, pubic area and legs. Signs and symptoms include:
  • Small, solid, rounded bumps (papules)
  • Small, pus-filled, blister-like lesions (pustules)
  • Skin darkening (hyper pigmentation)
  • Pain
  • Itching
  • Embedded hairs

When to see a doctor
An occasional ingrown hair isn't cause for alarm. See your doctor if:
  •  Ingrown hairs are a chronic condition. Your doctor can help you manage the condition.
  •  You're a woman with ingrown hairs as a result of excessive unwanted hair growth (hirsutism). Your doctor can determine whether your excess hair is a result of treatable hormonal abnormalities, such as polycystic ovary syndrome.

Hair structure and direction of growth play a role in ingrown hairs. A curved hair follicle, which produces tightly curled hair, is believed to encourage the hair to re-enter the skin once the hair is cut and starts to grow back. Shaving creates sharp edges in this type of hair, especially if the hair is dry when shaved. When the shaved hair starts to grow out, it curls back to re-enter the skin (extra-follicular penetration).

When you pull your skin taut during shaving, the newly cut hair draws back into the skin, causing it to re-enter the skin without first growing out (trans-follicular penetration). Using a double-edged razor also causes hair to re-enter the skin — the first blade pulls the hair out and the second blade cuts it, which allows the hair to retract. Trans-follicular penetration also occurs with tweezing, which leaves a hair fragment under the skin surface.
When a hair penetrates your skin, your skin reacts as it would to a foreign body — it becomes inflamed.

Risk Factors:
Having tightly curled hair is the main risk factor for ingrown hairs, so the condition is more common among blacks, Hispanics, and Middle Eastern populations.

Simple Solutions:
  • Not removing hair is one way to avoid an ingrown hair.
  • Using a scrub once a week helps to prevent in grown hair.
  • Using a AHA or BHA (like glycolic or sylicylic acid) lotion on the area also helps in preventing the problem.
  • If the area is infected and too painful see your dermatologist.