The problem of having ingrown hair is quite common. This is the condition in which hair starts to curl back towards the skin after growing and then pierces the skin to get lodged inside. The problem is generally self-correcting, since it takes care of itself in the majority of cases when the hair is allowed to grow out, however it can become more complicated in the other cases.
The most common areas in which ingrown hairs are seen are the ones which are shaved or waxed. This makes the face, legs and pubic area the most commonly affected ones, however ingrown hairs can actually be found anywhere on the body.
The appearance of ingrown hairs can vary from appearing like a raised dark colored bump with a hair follicle trapped in between to a reddish raised bump. There could also be the formation of pus in relation to the hair follicle. This is due to a super-imposed infection at the site of ingrown hair caused by trauma from scratching repeatedly or due to crude attempts to get rid of the follicle.
Some amount of pain, swelling, itchiness, redness, expression of pus and tenderness to touch can all be seen in varying measures at the site of ingrown hair.
The treatment of ingrown hair is variable. The first piece of advice that doctors will give to patients involves allowing the hair to grow out. The prevailing cosmetic concerns may not always allow the patient to do that. The doctor may also choose to use a small scalpel and release the trapped hair by making a small incision. This is useful but does not guarantee against further ingrown hair formation.
A long-term solution would be to look at laser treatment for the complete removal of hair follicles from the affected site. This can be quite effective and acceptable to the patient over the long term, however it can be much more expensive than other options.
Certain topical ointments are also available for the treatment of ingrown hair. They are available over the counter and usually contain salicylic acid or glycolic acid. The effectiveness of these ointments varies a great deal from person to person, however there is no harm in giving these a go before opting for other more invasive procedures.
If the ingrown hair has become infected and contains pus, then your doctor is likely to prescribe you a course of antibiotics as well.
Some simple things that can be done to help minimize the chance ingrown hair includes not shaving your hair very closely, using exfoliating scrubs and other spa treatments to keep the skin healthy, attempting to shave in the opposite direction from that you are used to, using cold towels to gently rub your skin and keep the hair from becoming embedded in the skin, and using preventive ointments available on the market.
None of these measures will guarantee you an ingrown hair-free existence, however they will definitely help reduce the incidence of these outbreaks.
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