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Ingrown Hair-Cause and Prevention

Acne Oily Skin Skin Care Tips

What is an ingrown hair?

ingrown hair cause and preventionAn ingrown hair is a hair that has grown back into the skin after it has been shaved or tweezed.  The hair is confined, growing sideways within the hair follicle, creating a tiny red bump or mild inflammation in the area where the hair was removed.  Sometimes it has the appearance of a pus filled acne bump, with a head.  Some have a visible hair trapped inside them.

Ingrown hairs are a common problem shared in the African and African-American population.  Also, people with very curly or course hair are more likely to get an ingrown hair. 

Should you leave an ingrown hair along?

An occasional ingrown hair normally doesn’t cause a problem; often it corrects

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itself on its own.  But that’s always the case for people who have thick, curly hair.   Some of these hairs can curl back on themselves and grow back into the skin.  The hair follicle can become infected if left untreated.  The skin is responding as if it was a foreign object, becoming irritated and inflamed. 

Removing an ingrown hair by digging or tweezing could make the problem worse if not done properly.  You could cause more bacteria to enter the hair follicle, thereby, increasing the chances of an infection or inflammatory hyperpigmentation. 

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Ingrown hairs that are extremely inflamed and/or infected should be removed and treated by a board-certified dermatologist.  If your ingrown hairs become a chronic condition see a doctor. 


Bacterial infection
Permanent scarring (keloids)
Pseudofolliculitis barbae (razor bumps)

Causes and Preventions

Shaving  -   A common cause of ingrown hairs is an improper shaving technique 

Here are a few shaving tips to consider:

  • Shave in the direction of hair growth.  The direction of the hair growth plays a part in creating an ingrown hair. 
  • Wash your skin with warm water and a mild facial cleanser before shaving.
  • Use a sharp razor every time you shave.
  • Avoid pulling your skin taut during shaving — the stretched skin allows the cut hair to be pulled back into the skin and start growing.
  • Avoid shaving too close.   Use a manual razor with a single blade. The double and triple blades gives you a closer you shave;  but cutting hair close to the skin creates a very sharp tip on the end of each of the hairs, and the chance those hairs curling below the surface of your skin resulting in razor bumps and infected hairs. 
  • Use a lubricating shaving cream or gel a few minutes before shaving to help soften the hair.  Or apply a warm compress.
  • Rinse your blade after every stoke to add extra lubrication.
  • Apply lotion after you shave. 
  • Use a daily SPF moisturizer.

 How to Avoid Ingrown Hairs: Shaving Sensitive Skin | Gillette 

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Tweezing  -  Improper tweezing can leave a hair fragment under the skin surface.  

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How to tweeze a hair out of a hair follicle without breaking it off at skin level. 

Hold the skin around the hair as taut as possible, in order to stretch the skin. This will relax the pore opening slightly. Place the tweezers against the skin at the base of the hair,  then gently pull the hair out  of the follicle opening in the direction the way the hair is growing.

 Additional Reading: How to Tweeze Hair Correctly

How to Avoid or Prevent Ingrown Hairs

What is the best way to prevent an ingrown hair?  Don’t remove the hair.  

In most situations that is not possible.  When you do have to remove your hair, use a technique that reduces the risk of developing ingrown hairs.

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“Over the counter products containing benzoyl peroxide, as well as exfoliating ingredients such as glycolic acid and salicylic acid, also can help in the treatment and prevention of ingrown hairs  Keeping skin moisturized and exfoliated not only makes it easier to shave, but it can help remove dead skin and hairs that may clog the hair follicles, as well as promote hair growth in the right direction," says Dr. Nada Elbuluk,  board-certified dermatologist.


Exfoliate   -  It’s possible for hair follicles to become clogged by dead skin, dirt and debris preventing the hair from growing out.  When this occurs, the hair in the follicle becomes stuck or grows sideways into the skin, causing an ingrown hair.    In some cases you can see the tip of the hair trying to break through the dead skin cell buildup.
  • Hair Removal Cream  - Try using a hair removal cream to dissolve the hair shaft instead of cutting it off.   These creams can cause skin irritation or an inflammatory response, so do a patch test following the manufacture’s directions, then wait at least 24 hours to see if you have an allergic reaction.
  • Let skin rest  -  If possible avoid shaving the area, let the hair grow longer before shaving or tweezing it
  • Use Clipper  -   Use a clipper rather than a razor, and try not to shave too close 
  • Permanent hair removal  -   Remove hair permanently through electrolysis or laser hair removal
  • Prescription medication  -  Use VANIQA® (eflornithine hydrochloride) Cream, 13.9%, a prescription medication to decrease hair regrowth  

 Recommended skincare products to reduce ingrown hairs

Studies have proven products containing chemical exfoliant like lactic, glycolic, or salicylic acid help dissolve dead skin cells that can more easily trap ingrown hairs


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