Problem: A shaved or tweezed hair that grows back into the skin, causing inflammation. The main symptoms are small, solid bumps and small, pus-filled blisters. Ingrown hairs can become infected leading to cysts. At first, you might notice a small pimple-like bump that has a hair at its surface. It may also be red in colour. Over time — if the ingrown hair doesn’t go away — the small bump can transform into a much larger one. The resulting cyst can be red, white, or yellow in color. It may also be painful to the touch. Ingrown hair is common in black males aged 14 to 25, but it can affect anyone with curly or coarse hair.
Solution: Often an ingrown hair will go away on its own. In a few cases, a doctor or skin care therapist may release it by making a small sterile cut in the skin, or using a tweeze to remove the hair. Letting hair grow out can help prevent the condition.
Causes: As the name implies, the hair can’t break through the skin’s surface so it starts growing back into the skin. This is often found in curly hair types and can result from improper hair removal techniques. Whether you shave, wax, or tweeze, removing hair isn’t always clear-cut. The process itself can cause swelling, which may irritate your skin and lead to pimples and resulting cysts. Removing a hair can also cause the new hair to grow incorrectly (ie. sideways and eventually curl back down). When this happens, the pore can close over the hair so it becomes stuck, or ingrown. The skin responds by becoming inflamed, treating the curled-back hair as a foreign object.
Recommended Treatment: Over-the-counter treatments like Benzoyl Peroxide and retinol products help prevent and alleviate infection caused by ingrown hairs. Your healthcare professional may prescribe a steroid cream to help reduce redness topical or oral anti-biotics if infected. If ingrown hair is causing scarring and ongoing pimples or becomes cystic then it is recommend to try more permanent hair removal methods, such as laser hair removal, or alternatively to refrain from hair removal altogether.
Lifestyle tips: Wash the area with mild cleanser and warm water; apply a warm, wet washcloth over the ingrown hair. This helps open the follicle and allows it to drain. Hold the washcloth in place for 1 minute, then useing a sterilized needle or tweezers, gently ease out the hair. Dry brushing and gentle exfoliation helps soften the skin and remove dead skin cells which helps prevent ingrown hairs
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