Categorized | Skin Care

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How to Get Rid of Ingrown Hairs Safely

Ingrown hairs itch and for most people are just an irritation.

But they sometimes result in painful red bumps and if left untreated, infection causes pustules which burn, look unsightly, causing both discomfort and embarrassment. Sometimes too, a solid little bump without pus forms.

People with coarse, curly hair suffer more often from chronic ingrown hairs but almost everyone who shaves, waxes or tweezes will have to deal with ingrown hairs at some time.

Causes of ingrown hairs

Ingrown hairs, razor bumps or their medical term Pseudo Folliculitis Barbae, generally occur on frequently shaved areas such as a man’s face or woman’s legs, underarm or bikini area.

It results from hair being cut, removed or broken below the skin surface and then curling back on itself, growing back into the follicle, or it fails to grow out of the follicle and remains embedded in the skin.

You can usually see the hair beneath the surface of the skin and if you were to tweeze it, the unfolded hair can be surprisingly long.

Freeing the hair

The goal is to free the tip of the hair from under the surface of the skin so it can continue growing outside.

Every day gently exfoliate the area where your ingrown hairs occur. This removes dead skin blocking the hair’s escape. Brush in different directions, hard enough until some of the hair is exposed but not so hard as to cause bleeding.

Whenever you see a loop of hair close to the surface of the skin, it has curled back and is growing beneath the surface of the skin. Hook the tip of a needle into the loop and gently pull the hair free.

If the hair remains buried, soak a clean face-cloth in very hot tap-water. Cover the ingrown hair with the hot, wet cloth until it cools, and the skin will soften.

Dip tweezers in rubbing alcohol, iodine, peroxide or boiling water to sterilize and prevent infection, and gently free the hair.

Pointed tweezers, rather than the flat-tipped ones, cause less damage to the surrounding skin. Or use a sterile needle to fish the hair out.

Pundits suggest freeing the ingrown hair only, lifting the tip out from the follicle, and not plucking it out from the root.

Then finish by dabbing witch hazel on the affected area to reduce redness and swelling.

Infected ingrown hair

The worst situation is when full-on folliculitis occurs. The infected hair follicle forms a red bump or white pustule which later crusts over. When possible, give hair removal a rest and let your follicles recover.

Keep the surrounding area immaculately clean and dab acne medication – benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid – to the pustules several times a day for a few days.

Twice a day soak a clean wash-cloth in very hot tap-water, then cover the infected ingrown hairs for a few minutes to soften the skin.

This softens the hair underneath your skin, helping it rise above the surface, draws any pus out and reduces the inflammation.

Tempting though it may be, refrain from squeezing the pustule. Instead keep on applying warm compresses and ensure the area remains clean and moisturized until it heals.

Most people will have the urge to get the hair out. If so, gently squeeze the sides of the ingrown hair to free the hair shaft. If unsuccessful, use a sterile needle or tweezers to gently tease the trapped hair out of the skin, without digging for it and tearing the skin.

Just free the tip without plucking the hair out completely.

If unsuccessful, be patient; the hair might not be long enough for you to extract, in which case reapply the hot compress until it makes an appearance.

Swab the area with hydrogen peroxide to prevent infection. If pus oozes out, wipe clean with a tissue, and pat with hydrogen peroxide twice a day. And if the area is likely to chafe, cover with a band-aid.

For deep infected ingrown hairs use an antiseptic cream to keep the area moist and twice daily ply hot compresses.

If this procedure doesn’t help, it becomes painful or lasts for more than a few days, see a dermatologist who might prescribe antibiotics.

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