Ingrown Hair

There are times when a pimple like, red and itchy bumps might appear on a person’s skin a few days or weeks after shaving. The swellings might develop into painful boils containing pus. These bumps might be as a result of ingrown hairs that irritate the skin. Ingrown hair is common after puberty and appears primarily on frequently shaved body parts like the face, armpits, legs, pubic regions and necks.

ingrown hair

What is Ingrown Hair?

Ingrown hair or Pseudofolliculitis barbae is a skin condition that occurs when the pointed tip of the hair curls and either grows back into the skin or grows sideways into the skin. It does so because of the tough and hardened dead cells on the skin surface. The body perceives the ingrown hair as a splinter or foreign object, and then triggers the inflammatory response, which causes the red, itchy pimple like appearance. The condition can cause scarring and skin discoloration, however, it is not life threatening.

Complaints and symptoms of Ingrown Hair

A notable thing about the ingrown hair is that people start experiencing them a few days or week after hair removal. Different people are likely to experience diverse reactions to ingrown hair. In some people, the condition might be mild causing a slight itching sensation. In others, the skin becomes tender, accompanied by an itchy sensation, causing their skin to develop reddish or pinkish inflamed bumps. Some patients complain that the curled-back hair becomes slightly visible at the middle of the crack and can cause a painful eruption similar to acne, once they shave. In such cases the skin develops a full red appearance, resulting from the dilated superficial blood cells. If the affected skin part gets exposed to dirt or Staphylococcus a common skin bacteria, it becomes infected and at times septic.

Causes of Ingrown hair

Although anybody can get an ingrown hair, it is mostly prevalent in particular situations. For instance people with extremely curly or coarse hair are more likely to get the condition. The reason being, curly hair tends to bend backwards and can quickly re-enter the skin after shaving. Similarly, those who prefer cutting their hair short and close to the skin experience ingrown hair, especially if they employ improper shaving techniques. Such shaving results in a pointed tip which are likely to pierce the skin and end up trapped underneath the surface, resulting in the pseudofolliculitis ingrown hair or Razor Bumps.

The skin condition can also result from aggressive hair removal methods like waxing or friction from tight fitting clothing. Interestingly, it can also occur naturally. For instance, there are times when dead skin might accumulate on the surface, blocking the hair follicles in the process. The hair has no other option but to grow sideways. Furthermore, people with high levels of specific sex hormones experience a lot of hair growth, increasing the chances of developing ingrown hair after shaving.

ingrown hair

Where do we have ingrown hairs?

Ingrown hair develops in adults and teenagers, and more so in people of American or African descent. Nevertheless, they can occur in individuals with coarse hair. On very rare occasions it is possible to encounter people with ingrown hair on other parts of the body that contain hair follicles. However, the condition does not affect body parts like the mouth, vagina, palms or feet souls as they lack follicles. The skin condition can appear in various body parts that a person shaves. In men, this could include the face, beard, neck, thighs and buttocks. In women, the ingrown hair appears mostly on the thighs, buttocks, and the bikini region.

How shaving causes ingrown hair

Much ingrown hair and razor bump incidents are as a result of shaving using methods and products not ideal for the type of hair, be it curly or coarse hair. The following are just a few ways that shaving causes the razor bumps. For starter when a person cuts coarse or curly hair so close to the skin, instead of cutting at the skin level, the hair beneath the surface can curl in a different direction and burrow itself into the skin. Similarly, shaving using a multi-bladed cartridge razor can trap the hair while shaving, and forcefully tug the hair leading to inflammation, irritation and even swelling.

At times the Ingrown hair results from poor shaving habits like pulling the skin, exerting too much pressure while shaving, shaving against the hair grain and failure to prepare the skin well before shaving.

ingrown hair

When a person pulls the skin to ensure a neat shave, the skin expands. However, the moment he or she releases the skin it contracts covering the hair follicles that he or she cut. After a few days, the hairs start growing into the skin.

If an individual applies too much pressure when shaving he or she can end up cutting the hair beneath the surface, resulting in the development of ingrown hair. Some of the reason a person might apply too much pressure include using a very light shaver or using a shaver with a blunt blade.

Shaving against the hair grain will indeed provide a quicker and closer shave. However, it allows for the cutting of the hair beneath the skin. When the hair resumes growing, it grows into the skin follicles.

Before shaving, it is important to prepare the skin adequately for the exercise. Use of warm or hot shower helps to soften up the skin tissues and open up the pores, making the shaving smooth and effortless. However failure to do so exposes the skin and hair to high possibilities of developing razor bumps and Ingrown hair.

Prevention and Treatment of Ingrown hair

Unfortunately, there is no way of making someone immune to Ingrown Hair. Nevertheless, it is possible to prevent it from developing and also remove the bumps. Some efficient prevention methods include hydrating or softening the skin before shaving, exfoliating, avoiding shaving too close to the surface and against the grain. Some methods ideal for removing the Ingrown hair includes extracting using sterilized needles and tweezers, application of acne medication and applying egg membrane.

ingrown hair removal