Dealing with Ingrown Hairs
By: Marylin Salgado
Our skin has a mind of its own. It’s not like we can tell our skin to stop producing and growing hair. One of the issues body builders face, especially those who compete, are ingrown hairs. Women, more often than not, will get them on the bikini line. Men usually get them on the face and pubic area. Pubic hair, similar to facial hair, is coarse and usually requires removal by shaving or waxing. Plucking is another, but usually very painful method.
An ingrown hairs is essentially a hair that has grown and curled on itself, causing it to grow inward. The exposed hair that is growing back in, is carrying with it some bacteria from the exposed air as hair in its main function is meant to capture environmental impurities which we then wash, shave or wax away. It also serves as an insulation to keep us warm from cold weather. When the body rejects these impurities, inflammation and swelling may happen, which in itself can cause a lot of redness, warmth and tenderness. An ingrown hair that does not resolve on its own will eventually become infected. Some severe cases require removal at a physician’s office to remove the hair and pus that has accumulated under the skin.
Some basic home remedies to treat an ingrown hair is a warm compress to help soften the skin and drain the area. Sometimes the surface of the bump may soften enough where a piece of hair is exposed. Alcohol wipes tweezers may be used at this time to pluck the hair. Trying to dig into the bump before the hair is exposed can cause bleeding, infection, and scarring.
Another thing you can do is stop shaving, plucking or waxing until the issue has resolved. Wash the area with soap and warm water and massage the outer perimeter of the bump in a circular motion for about 10 to 15 seconds. This light pressure might help the hair pop out.
A variety of over-the-counter ointments can be used if a few treatments of warm water compresses or massage has not worked. Hydrocortisone, Pure Aloe, Benzoyl Peroxide, or Witch Hazel might help. Make sure to consult your doctor if you are unsure if you might be allergic to any of the ingredients in these products.
If the ingrown hair develops into a cyst, which is a pocket under the skin filled with pus, you can use the following home remedies to treat it:
- A tablespoon of sugar mixed with lukewarm water. Rub on the cyst for 10 to 15 seconds and then rinse with warm water. Repeat the process 2 to 3 times a day.
- Honey is used to treat wounds for its anti-bacterial properties. A teaspoon of honey can be very effective in treating a cyst. Leave on for 10 minutes then rinse off with lukewarm water.
- Baking soda can be used to relieve the symptoms of the cyst, such as itching, redness and swelling. Mix a teaspoon of baking soda with a cup of warm water and apply with a cotton ball. Rub for a minute or less and repeat the process until you are able to squeeze the ingrown hair out.
Here are a few simple things to consider to help prevent ingrown hairs. It is possible to get more than one.
- Trim longer hairs with a pair of shears before you shave or wax.
- Soak the hair and skin with a warm compress or warm bath before shaving facial or pubic hair.
- Exfoliate the skin to help remove dead skin that might be attached to the base of the hair that you are planning on removing.
- Use a sharp razor or new razor if you are constantly shaving. Dull razors will not only catch hair, they can cause skin irritation and blunt cuts on the skin.
- Use lotions after every shaving or plucking procedure to keep the skin moist.
There are other methods that can be used to prevent the ingrown hair caused by waxing, shaving or plucking. There are chemical hair removals that help remove hair by method of lotions or creams. I would strongly suggest consulting with your physician or dermatologist before doing so. Some of these chemicals can cause severe skin reactions or burns.
Electrolysis is a method of removing hair by chemicals or heat energy. The procedure can be painful and tweezers are used to permanently remove the hair. Both the FDA and the American Medical Association approve this method as a permanent means of hair removal.
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