Looks are and always have been extremely important. That is why we use all kinds of cosmetic treatments to look perfect. These include shaving and waxing for hair removal. While these have proven results, they may also trigger problems such as ingrowing hair. Find out more about the causes of this issue which has an adverse impact on the skin and may cause great discomfort as well.
When a hair is cut or plucked out of the follicle, a new one begins to grow in its place. Normally, the new hair goes up the follicle and its sharper top part goes above the surface of the skin. However, in some cases, the stem does not follow this path. Instead, it goes sideways and cuts through the follicle lining. Basically, the pointy edge causes injury to the skin. This causes the immune system to produce and deliver white blood cells for the healing of the injured spot. This triggers inflammation and swelling.
Due to the inflammation and swelling the ingrowing hairs look like raised bumps which can be reddish, purplish or brownish. They can be tiny or quite big depending on the size of the affected area. Sometimes, there is a pouch of white and yellow pus which can be clearly seen and the top of the bump. In some cases, it is possible to see the hair under the skin.
Ingrowing hairs are not regarded as a serious medical condition. However, they have a variety of negative cosmetic effects. The bumps are unsightly and can lower your self-esteem if they are on a visible part of the body which cannot be covered with clothing. Furthermore, the bumps can cause a great amount of discomfort and sometimes even pain. Other skin problems which can occur include discoloration and scarring.
The Main Causes
Only newly growing hair can penetrate into the skin. That is why the problem occurs soon after shaving or several weeks after waxing and tweezing when the hair is advancing up the follicle. The affected skin areas are the ones which receive the treatments. In men, these are typically the face and neck. In women, these are the legs and the pubic area.
The risk of ingrowing is higher when there is a thicker layer of dead skin cells. There are other risk factors as well. Coarser hairs are more likely to grow into the skin. These grow on the face and the pubic area. In general, regular shaving and waxing work to make hairs thicker and harder and this contributes greatly to the worsening of the problem. Similarly, curly hairs are more likely to cut into the skin because they grow in curved follicles and do not get a straight path up. People who have more body hair are at greater risk of this problem as well.
When you notice the presence of ingrowing hairs on your body, you should resort to appropriate treatment right away. This will help to improve the condition of the skin, to restore its smoothness and to prevent complications such as serious infection. You must avoid picking and squeezing the bumps to prevent scarring.
Many men and some women have to deal with ingrowing hair literally every week. The problem can have a great negative impact on the overall condition of the skin, on the looks and on the self-confidence. Complications such as acute inflammation can also occur. That is why the issue must be addressed timely and resolved fully with appropriate treatment. Find out what you have to do to get rid of this problem.
In most cases, the ingrowing hairs find their way to the surface of the skin without any special treatment. You simply need to keep your daily face washing and showering routine. The dead skin cells which block the way of the hair will go away and it will come out. The natural resolution to the problem typically takes a day or two.
If the problem persists after a few days and the bump is getting bigger, you should visit the office of a dermatologist to receive medical treatment. The doctor will use a needle or make a small cut with a scalpel to take the hair out. The treatment is perfectly safe and does not cause pain or serious discomfort. The risk of scarring is extremely low.
In case the skin is inflamed, the doctor will prescribe topical antibiotic treatment. When the inflammation is severe, oral antibiotic may have to be taken for dealing with the problem completely. If the area is painful, topical steroid medication can be prescribed for quick and effective relief.
You need to take special measures in order to get rid of ingrowing hair for good. The first step involves the use of a more effective and safer method for hair shaving or removal. If you shave, you should use razor technology which first picks the hairs up and then does the cutting. You must avoid shaving too close to the skin. After you are done, you should apply an appropriate product for soothing the skin and for keeping the pores open. If you wax, you should consider laser hair removal instead. With this procedure, the hairs are removed at a deeper level of the follicles and this slows down their regrowth and reduces the risk of ingrowing.
Frequent cleaning of the skin with a scrub is equally important as it works to remove the dead skin cells which block the hairs’ way out. You have to use a product which is suitable for your skin type and does not cause irritation. The optimal frequency depends on the severity of the problem and the condition of the skin. Sometimes, weekly cleaning with a scrub is sufficient while in other cases it has to be done every day.
It is best if skin cleaning is combined with the use of a retinoid-based cream. The cream provides for even more effective exfoliation. It reduces the risk of hyperpigmentation as well. It helps to keep the skin clear and smooth. You should ask your dermatologist to recommend a cream which is highly effective for preventing ingrowing hair yet fairly gentle to the skin.
With the right treatment and care, you will never have to worry about ingrowing hair again.