A common problem for women and men alike is how to get rid of ingrown hairs. For some people this is only a slight inconvenience, while for others it can be a major headache. Ingrown hairs are not only unsightly, but they can cause inflammation, itching and can also get infected.
Often an ingrown hair will go away by itself, however if it gets infected or go deep into the skin, you may need a doctor’s advice. The doctor can remove it with a sterile needle or scalpel. In some cases, the ingrown hair can leave a scar or a red mark, very similar to acne. But don’t fret, there are ways to prevent ingrown hairs and ways to treat them yourself. Firstly let’s analyse why you are getting ingrown hairs.
What are ingrown hairs?
Ingrown hairs are hairs that have curled down and grown back into the skin. An ingrown hair usually irritates the skin producing a pimple-like, red bump. Sometimes it can cause inflammation and pus maybe formed inside. Depending on the colour of your hair and the way the hair is grown, you may be able to see the black hair inside. Sometimes the ingrown hair can grow parallel and just slightly under the skin. At first sight it may even look like a normal hair.
Ingrown hairs are more common in people with curly hair that have shaved or waxed. In women they are more often found in the legs and the pubic area. In men often happen in the face or neck (also called razor bumps).
What causes ingrown hairs?
Hair removal is often the main cause of ingrown hairs, however there are a few others. Let’s have a look at them:
When you shave, you are cutting the hair with a sharp instrument. This action leaves a serrated edge on the remaining hair shaft. When the hair grows back it its sharp edge can penetrate the skin, specially if your hair is curly.
Waxing pulls the hair out in the opposite direction of hair growth. This action can cause the follicle to deform and the hair inside can grow back in a twisted direction. Also, if the hair breaks instead of coming out from the root, it is more likely to cause an ingrown hair.
Sometimes dead cells and debris accumulate in the mouth of the follicle, forcing the hair to grow back into the skin. Fine, soft hair often have this problem.
Dry skin is a common problem. Dry skin tends to produce lots of dead cells and can be hard and leathery impeding the normal growth of the hair.
How to prevent ingrown hairs
Preventing ingrown hairs is easy. All you need is a routine.
Exfoliating 1 or 2 times a week is essential. Our skin regenerates every 27 days. New cells are born on the deep layers of the skin and as they become old and die they raise to the surface. They form a layer on the surface of the skin called the Stratum Corneum (Horny Layer). The function of the Stratum Corneum is to protect the skin from the environment. As new dead cells surface the most superficial ones are shed. Because of surface oils and the adhesive nature of dead cells, without a proper skin cleaning routine, these cells can clog pores impeding the surfacing of the growing hair. Dead cells can also make your skin look dull and leathery.
Exfoliation will remove these dead cells, oil and debris, making it easier for the hair to come out straight. Just a word of caution: overdoing it can have the opposite effect. You should exfoliate only once or twice a week and do not use harsh products.
Buy a good exfoliating glove that you can keep in the shower. Once a week, you can also take a bath with Epson salts, or bath salts that will help detoxify and hydrate your skin at the same time than removing dead cells.
If you prefer to use a scrub, here are some natural ones you can make at home.
Baking Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate) is a natural abrasive that has multiple uses around the home. It is also an anti-inflammatory and will reduce redness. Make a paste by mixing Baking Soda with a bit of water. Gently rub your skin using circular motions. Rinse with lukewarm water.
Sugar and Sea Salt
Mix some sugar or sea salt (finely ground) with massage oil or olive oil. Make sure you don’t scrub too harshly, just rub gently, applying minimum pressure. You only want to remove the excess dead cells.
Everyday, after your shower (or after exfoliating), use a moisturiser or body oil. If your skin is well hydrated it makes it easier for the hair to come out. Moisturising every day not only will help you get rid of ingrown hairs but it will keep your skin supple and looking good. Ideally you will use a product that has vitamin A, C & E that will provide nutrition to the skin cells as well as stimulate the production of collagen. However, if you are low on the budget coconut oil is a great substitute.
How to get rid of Ingrown Hairs
Most people should be able to get rid of ingrown hairs by following the prevention methods above. If you regularly exfoliate and hydrate your skin the problem may disappear.
If you shave there are a few things you can do to prevent the occurrence of ingrown hairs:
- Shave with a single blade. Multiple blade razors tend to make the cut edge of the hair more sharp.
- Shave in the same direction of hair growth, this will cut the hair slightly above skin level and there will be less chance that it will grow under the skin.
- Use an electric shaver. Electric shavers tend to make a more blunt cut.
If you wax, you may want to change to Sugaring. Sugaring hair removal pulls the hair out in the direction of growth, so the follicle won’t deform and the hair will continue growing in the same direction, diminishing the likelihood of an ingrown. Sugaring also gives you a great exfoliation.
Some people however, because of curly hair, or other reasons may still get ingrown hairs. Unfortunately if this is your case you may need to try different epilation methods until you find one that works for you. In some cases the only solution is to resort to permanent hair removal: Electrolysis, Laser or IPL will all destroy the hair follicle: no hair => no ingrown. Both Laser and IPL hair removal will also treat the ingrown hair even if encroached under the skin.
New Home Peel Kit – Dr Des Fernandes Signature Prescription
From the 1st of March you will be able to treat problematic skin at home with Dr Des Fernandes’ signature prescription kit. It contains all you need to start breaking the cycle of acne.
The Environ home peel kit is an innovative, gentle and cool peeling system formulated to assist in the treatment of acne and acne scarring.
A mild form of lactic acid is applied to the skin surface in the form of a cream, called LACM. It works to sterilise the surface of the skin and stimulate growth factors deeper down in the lower layers of the skin.
Before & After: Seven months of regular LACM #1 peels and applying AVST A, C & E Face and Body Oil twice a day. *Results may vary.
- The LACM Peel is delivered to the skin in a controlled dose to give maximum effects without damage to the skin.
- It promotes regular exfoliation.
- Regular use promotes the production of healthy collagen and elastin.
- LACM is a safe and effective peeling agent.
- It improves the blood supply to the deeper layers of the skin, stimulating oxygen and nutrient supply.
- It can reduce pigmentation in the upper layers of the skin.
- Evens the skin tone and complexion.
- It acts as an anti-inflammatory and has a cooling effect on acne skin.
- It removes blockages and prevents the spread of bacteria.
- When used with vitamin A products can rebuild and heal acne scarring.