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What Causes Ingrown Hairs, and How to Prevent Them

There are around 5 million hair follicles on our bodies. When we remove some hair, we often have to deal with ingrown hairs that cause discomfort.

With 5-Minute Crafts, you will find out why ingrown hairs appear and how to prevent them.

What ingrown hairs are

An ingrown hair is one that has grown back into the skin instead of growing outside.

Ingrown hairs often appear on the face and near the chin and cheeks, as well as on the neck, head, in the armpits, on the legs, and in the groin.

A small number of ingrown hairs is not dangerous. You should see a doctor when it’s a constant problem for you.

Why ingrown hairs appear

  • Dead cells: The layer of dead cells on the skin’s surface can block the hair follicle. This is why hairs start growing sideways under the skin instead of upward.
  • Hormones: People with high levels of certain sex hormones may have more hair than others. They often develop ingrown hairs, especially after shaving.
  • Hair type: Ingrown hairs can be explained by their structure and direction of growth. Curled hairs have a curved hair follicle. When you shave them, you make their edges very sharp, so they pierce the skin and grow inward.

Ingrown hairs also appear after hair removal.

  • When shaving, you cut off the hair and its edge may pierce into the skin. Some people stretch their skin when shaving. The hairs might get back under the skin and grow there.
  • When pulling hair, you might leave a hair fragment under the skin.
  • During waxing, hair is removed by the root. It sometimes leads to the damage of hair follicles, which makes growth in the right direction difficult. Plus, new hairs are often thin and soft and they are not strong enough to get through the pores to the skin’s surface.

Signs of ingrown hairs

Consequences

When a hair grows back into the skin, it treats the hair like a foreign body and inflammation occurs. Chronic ingrown hair can lead to certain problems:

  • Bacterial infections
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Keloids
  • Pseudofolliculitis barbae, also known as razor bumps

How to avoid ingrown hairs

  • Keep the skin moisturized and exfoliated. It helps remove the dead cells and hairs that might block hair follicles.
  • Calm down the skin after hair removal. After the procedure, use a cold compress and apply a moisturizer that doesn’t clog the pores.
  • Use products that prevent ingrown hairs.

Here are a few tips to help you avoid ingrown hairs:

  • Use a sharp razor.
  • Wet the skin with warm water before shaving.
  • Use shaving gels.
  • Shave in the direction of hair growth.
  • Wash the razor after each movement.
  • After shaving, put a cool towel on the skin to calm it down.

What to do when you have ingrown hairs

  • Stop shaving and let the hair grow.
  • Use an electric trimmer to remove unwanted hair.
  • If you don’t want hair in certain areas, use a product that removes hair without shaving, like a cream, for example.
  • Don’t pull hairs. This way, you will avoid an infection under the skin.
  • Use warm compresses to calm down the skin in the armpits.

If none of these things help, a doctor can prescribe you the necessary medicine.

Hair removal methods

  • Shaving: This is probably the most popular hair removal method. It’s simple, but not for everyone. If you have ingrown hairs after shaving, try removing them with other methods.
  • Trimming: Some people prefer trimmers instead of razors.
  • Creams: Hair removal creams can also help get rid of unwanted hair. It doesn’t cut hair but dissolves it. Such creams may cause allergic reactions.
  • Epilation: An epilator is a hair removal machine. Thanks to the rotating head of tweezers, it takes the hairs and pulls them.
  • Waxing: This method helps decrease the chance of having ingrown hairs.
  • Sugaring: This is a method of hair removal with sugar paste. Some people think it’s less painful than waxing and causes less skin irritation.
  • Laser epilation: This is a procedure that removes hair at a deeper level and prevents its growth. But this method won’t remove unwanted hair once and for all.
  • Electrolysis: This method destroys the center of the hairs and you can always get rid of unwanted hairs. This is a lengthy process.

Remember that you should choose the method that is best for you.

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