Simple DIY Techniques to Treat Ingrown Hair
If laser hair removal is cost prohibitive or you don’t want to treat infected spots of ingrown hair with topical creams, a DIY approach may be the best option. Here are a few tips to help you treat ingrown hair and prevent infection without spending much.
Step 1: Reduce Inflammation on Ingrown Hairs
Treating the infected area with 1% hydrocortisone cream will reduce swelling, giving the ingrown hair more room to grow out. Before using this cream, check package directions to find out how many times to apply it.
Step 2: Use a Hot Compress
A hot compress can also expose the ingrown end of hair and soften your skin. For the best results, leave the hot compress on the affected area for about 15 minutes. Should the compress get cold, run it under hot water again and reapply until the remaining time elapses.
Step 3: Prevent Infections with Anti-Bacterial Soap
A great way to keep germs out of follicles with ingrown hair is using anti-bacterial or anti-acne soap. This will add an extra layer of protection against infection. Preferably, choose soap made of all-natural ingredients to prevent the side effects of some harsh chemicals.
Create lather using a rough washcloth, then use it to scrub your face or most affected areas in a gentle circular motion. Rinse off the lather, pat the cleaned area with a dry towel and apply a moisturizer. Repeat this regimen each morning to keep your hair follicles free of dead cells or oil that may cause ingrown hair.
Step 4: Tease the Ingrown Hair
After following proper skin hygiene or any of the DIY treatments shared above, it becomes easier to loosen up an ingrown hair. First, examine the hair bump to see whether the ingrown strand has surfaced. If it’s noticeable, use a pair of alcohol sterilized tweezers to tease the hair on occasion. The end of a toothpick can also work, but do not attempt to forcefully pluck the stuck hair. After you remove the ingrown hair, treat the affected area for infection by using an antibiotic ointment.
Ingrown Hair Prevention Tips
Anyone can experience ingrown hair, but it’s possible to keep this from happening. If you’re more susceptible to this condition, chances are that flare-ups always break out after removal of hair. Therefore, the simplest way to prevent it is to abstain from shaving or waxing so that body and facial hair can grow out as normal.
If that’s not an option, here are some of the best ways to keep bouts of ingrown hair at bay:
- Always hydrate the skin and hair before you shave. This makes hair strands to have rounded tips, which will not penetrate the skin easily.
- Scrub your beard with a moistened washcloth or soft bristled toothbrush on a daily basis to detangle hair and dislodge stubborn tips.
- As new facial hair grows, use gel or beard wax to keep curly strands straightened out.
- Instead of a skin-tight shave, leave 1 to 2mm of stubble on your beard. Shaving too close to the skin allows new strands with sharper tips to grow, which renter the skin much easier than longer hair.
- To reduce the chances of hair splitting back into the skin, shave with as few strokes as possible. This is best achieved with a sharp, single-bladed razor. In addition, rinse the blade after every stroke. A clutter free blade will allow you to cut as much hair as possible with every stroke.
- Avoid shaving against the direction of hair growth.
- Consider permanent and semi-permanent ingrown hair removal techniques such as electrolysis, laser hair removal or depilatory creams.
In most case, an ingrown hair will go away on its own. But without proper care, the hair follicles of ingrown hair may be infected and fill up with pus. These pus-filled spots of ingrown hair are called folliculitis. They can be slightly painful, although mild infections usually clear up even without treatment.
Avoid scratching or picking at ingrown hair as this opens up the skin and increases risk of infection. If you’re not careful, digging out a deeply embedded ingrown hair might leave you with a scar. It’s always best to just let ingrown hair grow out of the skin on its own but if you can’t help it, only use a sterile needle or tweezers to tease the hair gently.
If spots of ingrown hair fail to improve with proper care, seek medical help. Your general practitioner might be able to release the troublesome hair using a sterile needle. Severely infected skin with ingrown hairs can form pustules and abscesses, which will require treatment through antibiotics.
Other complications of inadequately treated ingrown hair include post inflammatory hyper-pigmentation, keloid formation, and scaring.
Is It Something Else?
Ingrown hair shares some similar characteristics with other skin related conditions such as acne, eczema, heat rush, abscess (cysts), or pustular psoriasis. Other conditions that may be mistaken for ingrown hair include:
- Molluscum contagiosum – a highly contagious skin infection characterized by flesh-colored, dome-shaped and pearly lesions.
- Keratosis pilaris – Also known as chicken skin, Keratosis pilaris appears as rough, slight red bumps on the skin.
- Impetigo – Another highly contagious skin infection that mostly affects preschoolers or people who play close contact sports.
If you’re not sure whether the red, raised bumps on your skin are due to ingrown hair or something else, be sure to see your doctor for a proper diagnosis.