Beauty 101: What You Need To Know About Ingrown Hairs |
Ingrown hairs may be common, but that doesn’t make them any less irritating. We spoke to Candela Medical Clinical Specialist and dermatologist, Chanele Rosa, to find out if they can be removed safely, why they occur and how to stop them developing in the future…
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There Are Multiple Causes

An ingrown hair is a common condition where the hair curls back, or grows sideways into the skin, resulting in an inflamed, raised bump. They can be painful, and some may even form like a boil or a sore. Ingrown hairs are often caused by hair removal methods like waxing, tweezing or shaving, but they’re also more common in those with dense, coarse hair, and can occur from lack of exfoliation or a hormonal imbalance. If you get one, it’s best to stop waxing, shaving or plucking until it goes away or starts to reduce in size – if inflamed, use a warm compress to open the follicle and ease pain. 

Shaving Is A Delicate Exercise

While shaving isn’t the root cause of ingrown hairs, it can lead to more problems. Always use some sort of lubrication before you shave, as shaving dry can create especially sharp edges that are more prone to grow back wonky into your skin. Leave a formula to soak into your skin for a few minutes before you using a razor – this will soften the hair and result in fewer cuts and chances of infection, too. 

Some Key Ingredients Should Help

If your ingrown hairs won’t budge by themselves, use creams with ingredients that exfoliate the skin such as salicylic acid, glycolic acid or lactic acid – these will break down sebum and dead cells which cause obstruction to hair. Tea tree oil has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, too, and anything with aloe vera can help to soothe the area. While exfoliation and removing dead skin can reduce their appearance, it’s also worth noting that over exfoliation can contribute to ingrown hairs. It can cause the skin to regenerate too quickly, meaning follicles become covered before they start to grow. To combat this, keep exfoliation to just once or twice a week. 

They Can Appear Anywhere

Ingrown hairs are most common in areas that have been waxed, tweezed or shaved (think the beard, legs and underarms), but it’s not uncommon to find them elsewhere on the body, like your biceps or calves. People often think if they don’t use methods of hair removal they won’t suffer from them, but it’s not always the case. Our hairs shed on a regular basis and when they grow back, the follicle may be covered with dead skin preventing the hair from exiting properly, which is what results in it becoming ingrown. 

Only Use Tweezers With Caution

You should never tweeze the hair while it’s still under the skin, as this may cause an infection. Wait until the hair has emerged and broken through – only then can you use a sterile pair of tweezers or a needle to gently pull it out. Sterilise tweezers by dunking them in alcohol or an acetone-based nail varnish remover. Laser and IPL are both great solutions for permanently reducing unwanted hair and minimising the appearance of scarring.  

Though Unsightly, They’re Rarely Dangerous

Ingrown hairs can be painful and unsightly, but they’re not usually dangerous. However, if they become infected, they can cause problems. If you’re concerned, seek advice from your GP or healthcare provider, who may prescribe an antibiotic if needed. 

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