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One of the most common reasons for having strange dark colored bumps on the face, legs, chest and other areas of the body is ingrown hair. These are hair follicles that turn back into the body after growing slightly, and then become embedded in the skin.

Ingrown Hair Symptoms

An ingrown hair can cause bumps which are reddish in color, itchy, slightly swollen and can be painful as well. These minor bumps can also become infected, in which case they are filled up with pus. Usually, these bumps get infected due to constant scratching which can cause minor lacerations and allow micro-organisms to invade and colonize the skin.

What Causes Ingrown Hairs?

The exact reason why some people suffer from ingrown hair while others do not is debatable. Ingrown hairs are quite common in men who keep a very short stubble, thereby allowing the sharp end of the cut hair to actually penetrate the skin. Women who shave their legs, arms and other parts of the body also have similar problems.

An increase in the level of testosterone has also been implicated in the development of ingrown hair since it increases the amount of hair growth.

Some researchers have pointed to a racial predisposition among Latinos, African Americans, Puerto Ricans and some other ethnicities that have a tendency towards thicker, curly hair. 

Treatment

The best way to treat ingrown hairs is to actually ignore them. In most cases they heal themselves as the hair grows out. If, however, it does not go away and in fact results in the aforementioned symptoms continuing then it is time to seek medical treatment.

Your doctor may choose to make a small incision with a scalpel or a thin needle after administering local anesthesia in an effort to free the ingrown hair from the skin. This is a good option when the problem is localized to a few areas, however in cases where it is widespread all over the body a prescription of steroid medication may be in order.

The steroid may be administered locally in the form of a gel or through tablet form via the oral cavity.

A supplement of vitamin A may be prescribed to help augment the repair that is taking place in the affected areas of the skin.

While there is no need to take any antibiotic medication if the ingrown hair is uninfected, a course will be prescribed if there is some pus formation that is observed.

Most patients have complaints that deal more with the cosmetic nature of the disease and this can be addressed in consultation with a dermatologist. Laser treatment to deal with the pigmentation is an option. It is also a good option to get rid of the problem of hair removal on a long term basis. This is especially true since growing out the hair in the affected area may not always be an acceptable solution for men or women.

Using spa services for skin exfoliation, keeping a small stubble or shaving with a single blade a little away from the surface of the skin are a few ways to minimize the amount of ingrown hair that develop.

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