What is an Ingrown Hair?

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  • Written By: Matthew F.
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 04 November 2019
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An ingrown hair is a situation where a hair on the human body grows or curls completely under the skin. It is often caused by different shaving practices and sometimes accompanies razor bumps. Ingrown hairs can vary in size and can appear anywhere on the body, causing scarring, redness, or swelling. With this situation, both ends of the hair follicle get trapped under the skin, either growing sideways or bending and curling. The medical term for the condition is Pseudofolliculitis barbae or PFB.

When a hair is broken off short or pushed under the skin but not removed during shaving, an ingrown hair is the result. Often a hair may be passed over and not removed, or cut properly but pushed sideways under the surrounding skin, causing the hair to remain ingrown and not emerge through the outer layer of skin. When shaving, pressing too tightly on the skin for a closer or cleaner shave can result in an ingrown hair. When the skin is pulled, sometimes the hairs are pulled sideways into the face instead of trimmed. This often causes a pimple-like bump, and may redden or swell if not treated. The spot may develop a rash or itch, and sometimes becomes infected or collects pus if the hair is not removed.


The ingrown hair can be removed with sharp cosmetic tools such as a pin or tweezers. The hair can be removed from its ingrown position by puncturing the swelling skin with a sterilized pin and pulling the ingrown end out through a small abrasion of the skin. The hair is then exposed as normal, and can be shaved or plucked with tweezers. An ingrown hair can also be prevented by shaving in a different direction, keeping the skin exfoliated or moisturized, maintaining clean pores, or something as simple as leaving a hot washcloth over the face.

Though the problem may take up to a couple weeks to alleviate, ingrown hairs can be treated with many different products or methods. Salicylic acid, a dermatological chemical, can help to remove ingrown hair follicles by exfoliating and moisturizing the skin. The acid clears out the pores where the skin grows and helps to prevent infection. Salicylic acid appears in many different aftershaves, moisturizers, and shaving creams, and can be used independently as a lotion to help remove the hair. The user must beware of foam-based creams and ones with alcohol, however, as they may dry the skin or cause further irritation.


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Post 3

I was getting ingrown hairs constantly. I finally figured out how to cure mine. Try this- 1. Stop using SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) or Sodium Laureth Sulfate) in your shampoo. Find a shampoo that is SLS free. Try not to use anything with SLS in it. I first realized it was in my toothpaste causing canker sores. I don't get either anymore!

2. Have the person cutting your hair disinfect the scissors, trimmer, and everything else that they use to cut your hair. 99 percent of the people at these hair chains will tell you they just disinfected their tools. 98 percent of them are lying. Just ask them to do it again. (a lot of them will have

to go look for the disinfectant)

3. If you have a habit of touching your head, then stop! Touching your head (oils/dirt) can cause them or make the ones that are there worse.

I hope this helps and if it does, please go out of your way to make this a better world by helping a stranger out like I just did.

Post 2

beachgirl05- It is usually not necessary to visit a doctor for an ingrown hair. However, if you have tried a number of different treatments and nothing has worked, it might be time to seek professional help.

Call your family doctor and schedule an appointment. They will usually have a treatment to cure stubborn ingrown hairs. They typically administer treatments with a high concentration of salicylic acid.

The only downside to seeing a doctor for an ingrown hair is that you will likely have to wait awhile for your appointment. The doctor might also require follow-up visits which can get pretty expensive.

Post 1

I have an ingrown hair that I have tried to treat, but nothing will work. Do doctors or nurses ever administer ingrown hair treatments?

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