Let’s be honest, ingrown hairs are kind of the worst. They’re red, sometimes itchy, and overall, downright annoying. The one silver lining? They’re just a not-so-stellar side effect of some hair removal methods, and are typically harmless. But just because they’re nothing to worry about, doesn’t mean we want to keep getting them. Below, we’ve compiled a list of WAXON’s top tips for treating and avoiding ingrown hairs, with a little help from WAXON’s lead trainer and educator Stephanie. Keep reading to figure out how to take care of pesky ingrown hairs once and for all!
What is an ingrown hair and what causes it?
OK, so we’ve almost all experienced ingrown hair, but what are they? In reality, it’s pretty simple. An ingrown hair is a hair that's grown back under your skin instead of rising up and pushing through the surface. According to Stephanie, “Ingrown hairs are generally caused by hair removal or friction. Removing hair can sometimes cause issues with the hairs breaking through the surface. Generally when waxing is done well it should reduce the chance of getting ingrown hairs, however shaving, or plucking are generally the two methods that can cause ingrown hairs. For some people though, all hair removal methods lead to ingrown hairs, and for them it’s always the same result - a red bump in the area where the hair is ingrown. As hair removal is one of the main causes, ingrown hairs can pop up wherever you remove the hair. Women may find them on their underarms or genital region, such as on the vulva, while men may get them on their face.
Certain people may be more prone to develop them. For example, studies have shown that women and men with thick and/or curly hair tend to develop ingrown hairs more often than people with fine or thin hair. This is especially true when it comes to pubic hair as the hair in our nether regions tends to be coarser than the hair on the rest of our body. Due to this predisposition for thick or curly haired people to develop ingrown hairs, the condition is often more common in the black community.
How do you know if you have an ingrown hair?
This is where it gets interesting. Ingrown hairs cause bumps called papules or small, pus-filled bumps called pustules. In some cases, the skin around the ingrown hair may become darker, which is known as hyperpigmentation. You also feel a bit of tenderness or itching in the area surrounding the ingrown hair. According to Stephanie, “This is generally how you know that you have an ingrown hair. They are pretty obvious and can continue to get worse if you don’t do something about it.” Although ingrown hairs typically present themselves in a similar way, many women get worried when they see a red bump on their skin, especially when it’s anywhere near their vagina. Gynaecologists know all too well how often ingrown hairs are mistaken for something worse, including warts, boils, or even herpes. Luckily, the most likely cause of the bump is an ingrown hair, and there are plenty of measures you can take to treat and avoid them.
Will ingrown hairs clear up on their own and if not, what can I do to get rid of them?
The short answer is: sometimes. But do you really want to wait it out, especially if it’s itchy or painful? Probably not. This is when you may want to consider taking action. Stephanie states, “Ingrown hairs can be gradually improved by exfoliating and hydrating the area and then following up with a serum.” Exfoliating helps to loosen the ingrown hair and will slough away dead skin cells on and around the ingrown hair. Over time, this will encourage the hair to break through the surface, or at least get close enough to it so that tweezers can be used to remove the hair. Using a warm compress may also help the hair exit the skin. Further, using a serum (like the South Ingrown hair serum, which contains acids such as AHA and PHA to exfoliate the area) on a daily basis will help heal ingrown hairs, as well as any blemishes around it, and it will help prevent future ingrown hairs. *Note: On rare occasions, ingrown hairs can be quite severe, causing pain and tenderness. This is when you need to consult a doctor. Do not try to remove it yourself at home, as it may be so serious that it needs to be drained and cleared up by a health professional.
What should you never do if you have an ingrown hair?
Whatever you do, do not use tweezers aggressively to try and pull the hair out. Also, do not pick or squeeze the ingrown hair or the area surrounding it. These actions are almost a surefire road to worsening or even spreading the infection, shares Stephanie. Another possible outcome is scarring. Excessively picking at or rubbing the ingrown hair can result in scarring (such as keloid scarring) or hyperpigmentation. Keloid scars are smooth, raised bumps that can appear flesh-toned, pink, or red in colour, and are caused by scar tissue that continues to grow.
What can women do to prevent ingrown hairs?
Although there is no guarantee that you’ll forever rid yourself of pesky ingrown hairs, there are a few things women can do to put them at a lower risk of developing ingrown hairs. Tip #1: Stephanie recommends that women avoid shaving altogether. If shaving is your preferred method of hair removal, then be sure to change the blade and clean it frequently, never share your razor with anyone else, and make sure you always shave in the direction of the hair. Tip #2: Get waxed frequently at a reputable place (or try laser hair removal which actually helps remove ingrown hairs permanently for those who are prone! Yay!). The more frequently you wax, the less likely you are to get ingrowns. Hard wax works best as strip wax can be quite traumatic on the skin and may result in breaking the hair versus pulling it from the root, which can result in ingrown hairs. Tip #3: Exfoliate and hydrate (Stephanie considers this the golden rule of ingrown hair prevention). Exfoliate regularly, use South ingrown hair serum daily, and keep the skin super hydrated (she recommends Coconut & Avocado oil). Ingrown hairs are more likely to occur with dry skin, as it’s harder for the hair to break through the surface.
There you have it - WAXON’s top tips for treating, avoiding, and preventing ingrown hairs. Now that you’re equipped with all the ingrown hair knowledge you can handle; we hope you’ll be able to keep pesky ingrown hairs at bay for good!
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