An ingrown hair is a hair that has curled and grown back into the skin. This causes inflammation of the skin (red raised spots) which can become infected and painful, sometimes filled with pus. Ingrown hairs can be very itchy and embarrassing. In men, they're commonly found in the beard area as pimples, and in women they're usually found on the legs, bikini area, underarms and buttocks.
Anyone can develop ingrown hairs, but they're most commonly seen in people with curly or very coarse hair which can easily bend back and penetrate the skin, resulting in an ingrown hair. This type of ingrown hair is called pseudo folliculitis.
Other causes include shaving or cutting hair very short, or the build up of dead skin cells in a hair follicle which then causes the hair to grow inside and under the skin. High levels of certain sex hormones can also cause excessive hair growth, which in turn makes ingrown hairs more likely.
Ingrown hairs will often disappear on their own, but if they become infected, you could be left with darker skin areas or scars, particularly if the area has been picked or scratched. Although ingrown hairs are not serious to health, they can be very irritating for sufferers.
To help prevent ingrown hairs, exfoliate daily with products containing glycolic acid, which lift away dead skin cells and allow the circulation of trapped air.
When shaving, use a sharp, single bladed razor, wet the skin with warm water and use shaving aid i.e foam, oil or cream. Shave in the direction of the hair growth, rinse the blade after every stroke and don't shave too closely to the skin.
You can also try other hair removal methods that are less likely to causes ingrown hairs, such as IPL / Laser Hair Removal and depilatory creams.
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