As a woman who used to wax, I’ve experienced many ingrown hairs, some that show black, some red and some that looked like pimples, others that felt like an ingrown hair boil, extremely painful. Most of the time, I enjoyed finding an ingrown hair as it meant I could pop it out. There’s nothing like the satisfaction of opening one of them and finding an inch-long hair in there!
Ingrown hairs can be uncomfortable and sometimes painful. They occur when a hair curls back or grows sideways into the skin, causing irritation and inflammation. Common symptoms of ingrown hairs include:
- Redness: The affected area may appear red, especially with inflammation or infection.
- Itching: Ingrown hairs often cause itching as they irritate the skin.
- Pain: Some ingrown hairs can be painful, especially if they become infected or form a cyst.
- Swelling: Swelling can occur around the ingrown hair, particularly if there is inflammation.
- Pimple-like Bumps: Ingrown hairs can resemble small, raised, pimple-like bumps. These can be filled with pus if they become infected.
- Tenderness: The area around the ingrown hair may be tender to the touch.
- Visible Hair: In some cases, you may see the ingrown hair trapped beneath the skin’s surface.
- Dark Spots: Sometimes, ingrown hairs can cause hyperpigmentation or dark spots at the site of the ingrown hair.
- Infection: If left untreated, ingrown hair can become infected, leading to more severe symptoms such as increased pain, redness, and pus-filled abscesses.
- Scarring: Repeated ingrown hairs or severe cases can lead to scarring in the affected area.
Ingrown hairs are common in areas where hair is regularly shaved or waxed, such as the face, neck, armpits, legs, and pubic area.
Ingrown Hair Infection
For many people, ingrown hair is very painful as red bumps similar to pimples or boils appear on the skin and can get infected with pus. There are many ways to treat ingrown hair at home without spending a lot of money at the beauty salon.
The Most Effective Way To Get Rid Of Ingrown Hairs
Preventing Ingrown hairs
They can be prevented by practising proper hair removal techniques and skincare. If you have recurring or severe ingrown hairs, consult a dermatologist or healthcare professional for advice and treatment options.
You’ll have to analyse your hair removal habits to avoid ingrown hairs. As I have a lot of experience with ingrown hairs, I noticed at a young age that shaving the direction of my hair follicles was causing ingrown hairs around the pubic area. So I started shaving in the direction of the hair follicles which solved the problem
Further down the road, I started waxing my legs, resulting in many ingrown hairs all over my legs. The ingrown hairs on the upper leg ended up infecting most of the time. Resulting in a boil or pimple that had to be gently addressed as I didn’t want to scar my skin. I quit waxing my legs as this wasn’t a sustainable way of removing my hair.
The best solution for me has been laser hair removal, as well to prevent ingrown hairs and to shave less. Laser hair removal kills the hair roots, making them unable to grow back and lessening your hair quantity.
Home Remedies to Expose Ingrown Hair
1. Warm Compress
Apply a warm or moist towel on the affected area to soften the tissues around the ingrown hair. Repeat this until the hair appears close enough to the skin’s surface.
Surprisingly, one of the best times to try a warm compress is when you are in the shower or bath. The warmth of the water or a warm sponge or bath towel will help soften the skin rather easily. Just be sure you do not pick at your skin with your fingers, or else this will aggravate it further. The best way to expose the hair is by using paper towels and pushing it out that way.
2. Use Tweezers
After applying the warm compress, once the hair is closer to the skin’s surface, slowly pluck the hair with point-tipped tweezers so that the end of the ingrown hair is above the skin. Remember, the aim is not to pluck the hair out as this is very painful. Don’t forget to sanitize the tweezer with alcohol before using it.
Note: Sometimes the hair may look like a loop, but do not worry. The ingrown hair is growing back into the skin, hence, the loop-like shape. Simply put a sterilized needle through the loop and gently pull it out.
If you are having a difficult time pulling out the ingrown hair, that might mean that your skin is not yet ready to be messed with. You may need to soften your skin a bit more with the heat compress, then return to it later. It might also mean that the ingrown hair needs a bit more time to grow out to poke through the skin.
3. Benzoyl Peroxide
Benzoyl peroxide is particularly good for those ingrown hair filled with pus and seeming like pimples. Apply it to the affected area several times daily, for at least a week. While trying this, remove all the dead skin around the affected area. This will cut the bump or swelling, making the hair’s growth easier.
You never want to mess with the type of ingrown hairs that have developed a small puss-filled sack-filled area on the top. Doing so can introduce new bacteria into the area, leading to an infection.
Be sure not to apply too much pressure when applying the benzoyl peroxide. You want to apply just enough to coat the area but do not irritate it.
4. Milk and Out-of-date Bread
This may sound silly, but it does work, especially on a looped ingrown hair. Warm some milk and dip a piece of bread in it. Now place the bread on the area of the skin with the ingrown hair and keep it there for about 2 minutes or until the bread cools. Repeat for another 10 minutes. Check if the pore has opened up; use a sterile needle to pull the loop out.
Salt helps in exfoliation and increases blood circulation to aid ingrown hair coming out. Take 1½ teaspoons of salt and mix it with 1 cup of warm water. Dip a cotton ball into this solution and dab it on the affected area. Do not wipe it off. The best time to do this would be before going to bed so that the salt can exfoliate and cleanse the skin overnight. Repeat this daily until the tip of the ingrown hair appears.
- Another method is to add Epsom salt to your bath water. Gently exfoliate the skin with a loofah or washcloth while bathing. Apply moisturizer or aloe vera gel after bath. Repeat it daily until the ingrown hair is exposed out.
6. Change your Shaving Techniques
Men with ingrown hair on their faces should not apply too much pressure on the blade and should not stretch their skin while shaving, as this traps the hair stubs in the follicle. Besides, always use a razor with a single blade instead of a double or triple blade.
If you are shaving your legs, shaving against the grain of the hair is okay. Just be sure that you do not shave too quickly. Doing so will cause friction that will irritate you. This is one of the main ways that ingrown hairs develop in the first place.
When shaving, be sure you are not going over the same area more than necessary. This, too, can cause irritation that will lead to ingrown hairs. Lastly, ensure you do not shave with an old razor either. Old razors have dull blades that can also lead to irritation. Dull razors are often the main culprits of ingrown hairs.
Lastly, once you have finished shaving, take care of your skin afterwards. Shaving can often strip the top layer of your skin, leaving your skin vulnerable to ingrown hairs. One of the best ways to avoid this is by moisturizing your skin afterwards to lock in hydration.
One of the best ways to lock in moisture is by using a hydrating location. Using oils such as coconut oil and essential vitamins like Vitamin E can work just as well too.
Mix some vinegar and hot water (remember to keep the mixture warm). Dip a cloth into this mixture and lightly press it on the affected area. When the cloth gets cold, dip it into the warm mixture and apply it to the affected area. This method takes a longer time and so you may have to repeat it for at least a week.
Sugar helps remove dead skin cells and push the ingrown hair out. Mix ½ a cup of jojoba oil with 1 cup of sugar. Add 10 drops of tea tree oil and apply this mixture to the affected area. Now scrub the area in a circular motion and wash it off with warm water. Do this for two to four weeks or until the ingrown hair surfaces out.
9. Baking Soda
Mix together one cup of water and 1 tablespoon of baking soda. Dip a cotton ball or a cloth into the solution and apply it to the affected area. Leave it for five to ten minutes and wash it with cold water. Repeat this two to three times in a day for faster results.
10. Black Tea Bags
Black tea bags have a high concentration of tannic acid, which makes the skin smooth and, at the same time, reduces inflammation and redness. Rub a warm teabag over the affected area for three minutes daily for several consecutive days.
- Alternatively, you can keep the tea bag in water for some time and then remove all the excess water from it into a bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of coconut water to this tea water. Dip a cotton ball into the mixture and place it on the affected area. Repeat this twice daily until you see the desired change on your skin.
Apply honey to the affected area and allow it to dry. Then, wash it off with cold water.
Place a few slices of cucumber in a refrigerator, and after about half an hour, gently rub the slices on the affected area. Alternatively, mash ½ a cucumber and mix it in 1/3 cup of milk. Refrigerate the mixture. Put a cloth or cotton in the mixture on the ingrown hair. After a few minutes, wash off with lukewarm water. Use the remedy twice a day, for a few days.
13. Apple Cider Vinegar
Soak a cotton boil in apple cider vinegar and apply it on the affected area. Let your skin absorb it. Use lukewarm water to wash off the area. Use it two times a day.
Aspirin alleviates symptoms associated with ingrown hair like inflammation and redness. All you need to do is soak 2 aspirin tablets in 1 teaspoon of warm water. Now, add 1 teaspoon of honey to the paste. Apply it over the affected area and let it stay for at least 10 minutes. Rinse with warm water and pat dry. Use it one or two times a week.
Mix together ¼ cup of unused coffee grounds and 1 cup lukewarm water. Massage the mixture on the affected area for a few minutes, in a circular motion. Finally, rinse with lukewarm water. Moisturize with aloe vera gel. The acidic properties of coffee make it easy to expose the trapped hair.
Herbal Remedies for Ingrown Hair
16. Aloe Vera
Use pure aloe Vera gel and rub it on the skin. Let it dry and then rinse it off with warm water. Repeat twice to thrice a day, for at least a week.
17. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil helps reduce swelling and redness caused by ingrown hair. Dab a few drops of tea tree oil on a piece of cotton wool and keep it on the area of the ingrown hair. The oil will facilitate the hair come out from beneath the skin and prevent further growth on ingrown hair. Alternatively, add a few drops to your body wash and use it to clean your body.
- Always keep your body moisturized while trying any of the above treatments.
- Before shaving, exfoliate the skin.
- Remove the ingrown hair only when you see the tip of the hair above the skin.
- Always cleanse your skin to get rid of any surface dirt.
- Once you remove the ingrown hair, treat it with some antibiotic cream such as Soframycin.
- Do not jab the tweezers into the skin.
- Avoid shaving for up to four weeks while the skin around the ingrown hair heals.
- Women should avoid using hair removal creams to reduce the risk of irritation.
- Do not use any medications or ointments without consulting your doctor.
- Do not pluck the tip of the ingrown hair, as it will reactivate the problem again.
- Avoid wearing tight clothes around the area which has ingrown hair.