The symptoms of ingrown hairs are often confused with pimples and rashes on the neck, cheeks, and chin; the spots where men shave. Time is typically the only remedy for ingrown hairs, so focusing on prevention is better, and if you’re shaving frequently, then you’re likely to run into this problem often.
Ingrown facial hair presents as small, red bumps. This happens because the cut hair grows out but then curls back into the skin, thus causing inflammation, which produces the red bumps that many find unsightly.
Anyone who shaves can get these red bumps, but the condition tends to apply mostly to men because they shave their faces more regularly than women shave their legs. Some men suffer more than others and can have ingrown hair bumps clustered in many areas of their faces while others may only see the occasional spot here and there.
Some people are more prone to ingrown hairs than others, such as those who have very curly or coarse hair. Curly hair is more apt to flip back into the skin after it has been shaved, waxed, or tweezed, and thick hair can grow back with a sharper edge after shaving, which makes it possible for the hair to more easily pierce its way back through the skin, where it gets trapped. Other people have high levels of sex hormones which can cause excessive hair growth, and in turn more ingrown hairs. Ingrown hairs can happen when tweezing and waxing as well, especially if the skin is sensitive. Prevention is possible by not removing hair at all, though this is not realistic for many people.
Signs and Symptoms of Ingrown Hairs
Papules are abnormal skin tissue presenting as small, rounded bumps about a third of an inch in size. They have distinct borders and odd shapes, are raised and red, but do not contain pus.
Pustules, on the other hand, are small, pus-filled, blister-like lesions on the skin. They are white and look a lot like pimples, and when they become hard and painful, they are known as cysts. Cyst symptoms are easy to detect. When there is a hard and painful lump under the skin, it’s often a cyst, but be sure to visit your doctor to get a proper diagnosis.
Hyperpigmentation is a darkening of the skin due to an overproduction of melanin. It’s harmless but can leave patchy discolored skin. Treatment options are available; talk to your doctor.
Ingrown hairs will irritate the skin, and if cysts develop they can become painful. With or without cysts, if the pain is hard to manage then see your doctor. Try applying a mixture of tea tree oil and jojoba oil to the skin to fight any infection that might be present. Soothe it with rose water.
Sometimes ingrown hairs can become itchy when they penetrate the skin. Wash your face regularly and apply a warm compress (a facecloth will do) to help with both the itch and the inflammation. Follow it with a cool compress so the pores close up. If you do this every night, it will help with prevention as well.
6. Embedded Hairs
This is the main issue with an ingrown hair. Hairs curl over and grow back into the skin, embedding themselves and irritating the skin. This can occasionally become infected.
If you have an ingrown hair cyst, it means the site has become infected. There will be a sac of fluid with yellow or green pus. You should see a doctor to determine if the infection warrants treatment or if it will clear up on its own. In the meantime, avoid removing hair in the area to prevent further infection and cysts.
Complications of Ingrown Hairs
Ingrown hairs can have complications, but this doesn’t happen very often. Some complications include:
- Bacterial infection, which comes from scratching. If you suspect an infection, you can try some home remedies to fight it or see your doctor.
- Skin darkening (hyperpigmentation), which can be permanent.
- Permanent scarring or keloids from cysts; this can also happen if ingrown hairs are recurring.
Ingrown Hair Prevention
Prevention of ingrown hair symptoms is easier than attempting ingrown hair removal, as these hairs can be stubborn and hard to combat. Below are a few tips.
- When shaving, use a sharp, single-bladed razor every single time.
- Use warm water to wet your skin before shaving. If you have time, place a hot facecloth over your skin to open up the pores.
- Use a lubricating shaving gel. Try to avoid shaving soaps, as they can dry the skin out.
- Rinse the blade after every stroke so that it’s free of cream and tiny hairs.
- Leave a bit of stubble after every shave, as this will prevent ingrown hairs; close shaves cause ingrown hairs.
- Place a cool washcloth on your skin afterward to close up the pores.
- Facial Hair May Be Cleaner Than You Think (and Good for Your Health)
- What Is a Hormone Imbalance in Men?
Sources for Today’s Article:
“Ingrown Hair,” Web MD web site;
http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/guide/ingrown-hair-causes-symptoms-treatment, last accessed April 26, 2016.
“Ingrown Hair,” Mayo Clinic web site;
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ingrown-hair/basics/definition/con-20034717, last accessed April 26, 2016.
“What Causes Pustule? 6 Possible Conditions,” Healthline web site;
http://www.healthline.com/symptom/pustule, last accessed April 26, 2016.
“Hyperpigmentation,” American Osteopathic College of Dermatology web site;
http://www.aocd.org/?page=Hyperpigmentation, last accessed April 26, 2016.
“Ingrown Hair,” Medicine Net web site; http://www.medicinenet.com/ingrown_hair/page2.htm, last accessed April 26, 2016.
“Ingrown Hair,” eMedicine Health web site; http://www.emedicinehealth.com/ingrown_hair/page2_em.htm#ingrown_hair_symptoms_and_signs, last accessed April 26, 2016.