After all the time and effort you spend on shaving, you don’t deserve the pain and discomfort of an unsightly red bump — especially on the sensitive skin of your face, neck, or bikini area.
Unfortunately, chances are you’ve encountered a painful red bump or two by now. And we know it’s tempting to squeeze and poke at an ingrown hair, but that really isn’t the best remedy. In fact, squeezing an ingrown hair could actually irritate your skin more.
So we’re going to provide you with ingrown hair treatment if you’re suffering from them — and how to prevent them from coming back.
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WHAT CAUSES INGROWN HAIR?
Ingrown hairs occur when the sharp tip of a hair grows sideways or curls down into the skin of the hair follicle. And according to Dr. Gary Cole, they’re common in areas with coarse hair — such as the pubic area or the face and neck of men.
But what makes the tips of hair so sharp in the first place? Shaving. In fact, according to Cole, “improper shaving techniques are the major cause.”
So to help you shave correctly to prevent ingrown hairs, we have 5 tips to keep your sensitive areas soft, smooth, and bump-free. But if you’re already suffering from one of these bumps, don’t worry — we have tips for clearing them up, too.
5 INGROWN HAIR TREATMENT PLANS TO TRY
1. APPLY A WARM COMPRESS
Once you notice an ingrown hair, start applying a warm compress. The warmth will start to soften the skin and open up the hair follicle. It’ll relieve some of the irritation and ease your pain and discomfort, too.
Wet a clean washcloth with warm water and hold it to the affected area for 10 minutes as often as you have time for.
Daily exfoliation is an important part of the ingrown hair treatment that will help clear dead skin cells and make room for the hair to start growing in the right direction — toward the surface of your skin. “The thicker the layer of dead skin, the harder it is for a hair to break through and grow straight,” explains plastic surgeon Dr. James Marotta.
Using a gentle exfoliating scrub, exfoliate the affected area daily while you’re in the shower when your skin is softest.
3. APPLY ACNE CREAM.
The appearance of both pimples and ingrown hairs are pretty similar, and some of the same at-home treatments can clear them up.
Acne creams containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid reduce swelling and dry the skin, which helps clear up ingrown hairs. Apply the cream 1-3 times per day to the affected area.
4. REMOVE THE INGROWN HAIR USING STERILE TWEEZERS.
These remedies for ingrown hairs will most likely help the hair work its way to the surface of your skin. And when it surfaces, you can remove it to speed up your skin’s healing process.
Sterilize a pair of tweezers with hydrogen peroxide and grasp the hair at the surface of your skin to remove it. Do not try this if the ingrown hair is still below the surface of your skin — if you pierce your skin using tweezers to try to dig out the ingrown hair, you run the risk of scarring or infection.
5. VISIT A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL.
If you notice that the bump is growing larger or darker in color, if it’s getting more painful to touch, or if it’s producing pus, it’s time to see the doctor. It could be infected, and a medical professional can safely remove the ingrown hair and prescribe medication that may be needed.
HOW TO PREVENT INGROWN HAIRS
1. EXFOLIATE OFTEN.
Like we mentioned, exfoliation helps clear out dead skin cells that can result in clogged pores and hair follicles. Use a gentle exfoliating scrub in your bath or shower 2-3 times per week to keep your skin soft and clear.
2. WEAR LOOSE-FITTING CLOTHING.
It might sound strange, but skipping the tight leggings and underwear can help prevent ingrown hairs. According to dermatologist Dr. Ava Shamban, tight clothing causes friction against the skin, which can actually rub against your hair follicles and cause hairs to grow down, into the skin. Wearing breathable, looser clothing, especially right after shaving, can help prevent ingrown hairs.
3. WET YOUR SKIN WITH WARM WATER BEFORE SHAVING.
Shaving while you’re in the shower — or right afterward — helps prevent ingrown hair, too. Warm water softens your skin and follicles, making it easier to remove hair and minimizing skin irritation. The softer the hair, the easier it is to remove, which makes it less likely that the sharp end will curl back into your skin.
4. USE SHAVING CREAM.
Make sure to lubricate your skin whenever you break out your razor. Coarse hair is more likely to curl and grow back under the surface of your skin, and shaving cream softens the hair, making it easier to remove. Check out Every Man Jack's Shave Gel for a smooth shave every time.
5. ALWAYS SHAVE WITH FRESH, SHARP RAZORS.
If you’re shaving with a dull razor, you have to go over your skin again and again to get the close shave you want. This leads to friction and skin irritation, which can result in ingrown hairs. Make sure you shave with new, sharp razors so you can get smooth skin without the red bumps.
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NOTE: This post was written by Sophia Bernazzani. Sophia is a blogger living in Boston with her cat, Leela. Say hi to her on Twitter.