Ingrown hairs are quite painful, and they’re unsightly as well. They usually appear after shaving or waxing. They start out as little bumps that then become infected, and they form because a hair wasn’t removed properly. They can turn into a serious issue, which is why in addition to knowing how to treat them, we need to know how to avoid them. Learn how to treat and prevent ingrown hairs in the following article.
Tips for preventing and treating ingrown hairs
- Think about your method of hair removal. Some suggest that using wax promotes the formation of ingrown hairs, while others say shaving causes more. What wax does is weaken the roots of the hair follicles, meaning that new hairs won’t have the strength to break through the surface of the skin. Shaving can also cause ingrown hairs, however, the root isn’t totally removed.
- Care for your skin. When hair follicles get oil, dead skin cells, dirt, or bacteria in them, it’s harder for new hairs to grow. To prevent this, exfoliate the skin on a weekly basis, cleansing and moisturizing your skin every day, and using non-comedogenic products that avoid “clogging” the pores.
- Learn how to shave correctly. If this is the method you choose for hair removal, pay attention to the following steps: soften the skin with warm water, soap or shaving cream (women can use the same shaving cream as men), don’t shave against the direction the hair grows, use light pressure each time you shave, and use a new blade every time (or change it every two or three times).
- Don’t wear tight clothes. Tight clothing will put pressure on the skin and keep it from “breathing,” and this is also true for the hairs that are growing beneath the dermis. This can eventually cause ingrown hairs. Most importantly, you should only wear cotton materials, and avoid any synthetic clothing.
- Kill bacteria after hair removal. Use natural antiseptics like tea tree oil to prevent infections. You can apply it to the skin a few hours after shaving or waxing.
- Dilate the pores with hot water or steam. You can also apply a hot towel to the legs, which makes it easier to remove the ingrown hairs.
- Avoid using the same wax multiple times, if you wax at home. In waxing salons they reuse the same wax for several days or weeks, so it’s a good idea to always follow the “Spanish” system that advises only using the wax one time.
- Dip a cotton ball in witch hazel oil and apply it to the skin where you have an ingrown hair. This home remedy is good for calming irritated skin and helps remove the hairs. It’s also useful for reducing redness and inflammation. It’s an exfoliant product that moisturizes and unclogs pores. Use it before and after hair removal.
- Remove the skin covering an ingrown hair with tweezers. Ingrown hairs remain “trapped” beneath the first layer of the dermis, but you can remove them by softly scraping the skin. Carefully lift the hair, but don’t pluck it, because you could irritate the area even more and cause it to become infected. Don’t forget to wash your hands beforehand (with mild soap) and apply a little rubbing alcohol or boiling water to the tweezers before using them.
- Prevent ingrown hairs from recurring in the summertime or while playing sports. Perspiration from training, the rubbing of legs or thighs, certain types of athletic clothing, heat, and more can help ingrown hairs form – so it’s a good idea to apply some Vaseline, talcum powder, or cornstarch to prevent irritation. When you finish exercising, rinse sensitive areas carefully so the hair follicles can “breathe” again.
- Use the gel from the aloe plant, an incredible natural remedy for ingrown hairs. Put it on the affected areas every evening and let it absorb into the skin. It’s a good idea to keep an aloe plant at home, so you can just cut open a stem and scrape out the gel. Aloe creams and lotions are also available, but are not as fast acting. If you buy aloe vera gel, make sure it doesn’t contain alcohol, which will irritate and burn the skin.
Use essential oils like chamomile or lavender. Check the concentration, and dilute with water if needed because some of these products are very strong and can damage or burn the skin. For best results, use a mixture of oils.
Steps to remove an ingrown hair
- Wash the area with a mild soap, rinsing with cold or lukewarm water.
- Exfoliate the area where the hair is impacted well, once in the morning and again in the evening, to “loosen” the hair. Do this carefully to avoid irritating the follicle or causing bleeding. You should only remove the dead skin, oil, or dirt.
- Apply a warm (but not hot), soft cloth or canvas to the area with an ingrown hair for a few minutes to soften the skin.
- Use tweezers that have been dipped in rubbing alcohol or boiling water to sterilize them. Stretch the skin around the area tightly, and use the tweezers to remove the hair with a quick “flip.”
- Afterwards, apply an antiseptic like tea tree oil or aloe vera gel.
- Repeat these steps if you get ingrown hairs often, or if they form in multiple locations on the body.