How to treat and prevent pesky ingrown hairs

If you’re struggling with ingrown hair, you’ll know firsthand just how itchy and irritating it can be. Coupled with the fact it often causes embarrassing bumps on your skin and can even become infected, you’ll want to deal with this pesky problem quickly and effectively.

Abbas Kanani, pharmacist at Chemist Click offers expert advice on how to treat and prevent ingrown hairs for good: What is an ingrown hair?

Ingrown hairs usually look like blemishes. ‘Typically, hair follicles produce hairs that grow out of our skin, up towards the surface,’ explains Kanani. ‘An ingrown hair occurs when the opposite takes place and a hair grows back into the skin . This usually happens when the hair follicle is blocked, which means hairs are forced to grow back towards the direction of the skin.’ What causes ingrown hairs?

One of the most common causes of ingrown hairs is the hair removal process, including shaving, waxing and tweezing. ‘These methods remove hair in a way that leaves the hair with a sharp edge, increasing the likelihood of the hairs poking back and growing under the skin,’ says Kanani.

‘Those that are predisposed to acne and spots are also more likely to experience ingrown hairs. This is because the follicles are blocked and do not allow hairs to grow out towards the surface of the skin. People with coarse or curly hair are also more likely to experience ingrown hairs.’

skincare advice for rosacea Signs of ingrown hairs

Ingrown hairs can easily be mistaken for spots or acne. ‘They usually appear as small bumps on the skin, often in clusters,’ reveals Kanani. ‘The colour depends on your complexion – they will appear red on lighter skin and black on dark skin. If infected, they can appear as white bumps. The bumps are often painful and tender to touch.’ Where do you get ingrown hairs?

Battling with post-shave rash on your legs, bikini line (or beard)? Sounds like ingrown hairs. ‘Ingrown hairs are most common on softer areas of the body where hair has been removed, such as the face, armpits and genital areas,’ says Kanani.

Dry skin moisturisers Tips to treat ingrown hairs

Here are Abbas Kanani’s top four tips on how to get rid of ingrown hairs:

✔️ If the tip of the ingrown hair is close to the surface of the skin, use a sterilised tweezer to remove them. Using a warm compress beforehand will allow hairs to rise to the surface, making this process easier.

✔️ Avoid removing hair (for example, by shaving) in the area where the ingrown hair is. This can cause irritation and could cause the ingrown hair to become infected.

✔️ Exfoliate the regions where ingrown hairs are prevalent. This can help to unblock pores , encouraging hairs to return to the surface of the skin.

✔️ Retinoid creams help to regulate the turnover of dead skin cells, which can help to unblock pores, allowing hair to grow back towards the surface of the skin. These creams need to be prescribed by a medical practitioner, so book an appointment with your GP.

Rosehip oil Treating infected ingrown hairs

If your ingrown hair becomes red or sore to touch, it might be infected. ‘Ingrown hairs can sometimes become infected, and some individuals will experience this on a regular basis,’ says Kanani. ‘This condition is known as folliculitis. Folliculitis is treated with antibiotics, but if you have a one-off case of an infected ingrown hair, you should leave it alone – the infection should resolve spontaneously.’

‘Self-help techniques, such as gently exfoliating around the region and applying a warm salt compress, can help to clear the infection more quickly,’ adds Kanani. ‘If the infection doesn’t appear to be clearing, or it is getting worse or more painful, you should visit your GP, who may be able to prescribe antibiotics or an anti-inflammatory cream.’

Although Abbas Kanani doesn’t endorse any particular brand, based on his advice, if you are looking for a product to treat ingrown hairs we recommend the following: We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article. Try these ingrown hair treatments

MALIN + GOETZ ingrown hair cream Preventing ingrown hairs

Once you’ve treated your ingrown hair effectively, you are unlikely to want to repeat the experience! Here are Abbas Kanani’s top seven tips on how to prevent ingrown hairs in the future:

1. Exfoliate twice a week. This will help to prevent your pores from getting blocked.

2. Use the correct shaving technique – you should shave in the same direction as your hair growth, not against it.

3. Do not reuse disposable razors, and use a single-blade razor if possible.

4. Always use a shaving gel or cream, to help lubricate the area and decrease the likelihood of sharp edges.

5. Do not stretch your skin for a sharper shave.

6. Try an electric shaver.

7. Look into laser hair removal, to remove the need for shaving all together!

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