By Dr. Josh Zeichner
Everybody gets pesky ingrown hairs once in a while. They occur when the shaved edge of the hair re-enters the skin after it grows out, resulting in what often looks like red bumps. If you look closely in the mirror, you may actually see the hair leaving and then re-entering the skin.
There are two main factors that can predispose you to ingrowns:
1. Properties of the hair itself: If the hair shaft is not straight, it is more likely to grow back into the skin and get trapped there. Sorry, curly-haired friends!
2. Poor shaving technique: If the edge of the hair is not shaved smoothly, then the ragged end is more likely to get stuck and become ingrown. And if poor shaving techniques leave your skin irritated or nicked, hairs may be more prone to getting stuck.
If you take care of the ingrown hair properly, it shouldn’t pose much of a problem. Otherwise, it can become inflamed and infected. Here’s what you should do to avoid a problem:
DO NOT pick at ingrown hairs with your fingers. If you break the skin, you put yourself at risk for an infection which could, in a bad case, require an antibiotic or even lead to permanent scarring. Plus, any additional irritation can make freeing the ingrown edge of the hair more difficult.
So what to do? After washing your face, look in the mirror to see if the ingrown hair is visible. If you can’t see it, you won’t be able to free it from the skin. You may want to visit your dermatologist to help you out.
If you can see it: Use a clean needle to free the ingrown edge of the hair from the skin. Then -- as long as the bump is not too inflamed -- you can gently shave over it to cut the freed hair.