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Kalyna Kapur

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10 Jan 1990
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Published on: 29 Mar 2017 by kalynakapur

What is an Ingrown Hair, Why Do They Appear?

Ingrown hairs are an uncomfortable and unsightly problem that both men and women can experience and are most often associated with areas that are shaved or waxed.  To deal with them and to prevent them reoccurring, it helps to understand what an ingrown hair is and why they appear.

Ingrown hair basics

An ingrown hair is a hair that has grown backwards into the skin rather than through the hair follicle and outwards.  It is a common thing to experience and aren’t a sign of a larger problem but can be uncomfortable and create an unpleasant look.  Sometimes they will go away on their own but other times they need some careful help.  People with curly or thick hair can be the most likely to experience ingrown hairs but anyone can have them.

There are several symptoms that allow you to recognise ingrown hairs.  A lump or bump on the skin is the common way, sometimes in a small cluster.  This is the hair follicle where the hair has grown the wrong way.  The lump may be itchy or tender to the touch and can become inflamed.  There may be an infection within the hair follicle and this can lead to a build-up of pus.

Sometimes, ingrown hairs can be mistaken for other conditions and vice versa.  These conditions include acne, eczema and heat rash as well as conditions such as keratosis pillaris (chicken skin) and pustular psoriasis.  If you are unsure what you are suffering with, always speak to a medical professional.

Why do ingrown hairs appear?

The most common reason for ingrown hairs is a result of shaving or sometimes waxing.  When a hair is cut, if it isn’t done the right way, a sharp edge can be left and this grows inwards, causing an inflammation and infection to the hair follicle. 

Another way that hairs can become ingrown is if the follicle becomes blocked.  The most common reason for this is due to dry or flaked skin that blocks the pore and makes the hair grow inwards.  Exfoliating the skin before shaving can help to prevent this problem.

Dealing with ingrown hairs

Sometimes, ingrown hairs will go away without any treatment.  If there is an infection – if the lump is red and sore – then some antiseptic cream might be needed to clear the infection.  You can carefully remove the ingrown hair with a pair of tweezers in some cases but be careful not to just pull out the hair as this will make things worse – instead, tease out one end and use this to pull it lose.

Another step to deal with ingrown hairs is to prevent them occurring in the first place.  There are several treatments available that can reduce the chance of ingrown hairs.  Aloeclear is one example – this is a preventative product that uses natural aloe vera to soothe the skin and reduce the chance of ingrown hairs.  Because it uses natural ingredients, it is safe to use on sensitive skin and makes hairs softer and less likely to grow the wrong way.

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