Skin SOS - How Do I Deal With Ingrown Hairs?
Ingrown hairs are hairs unable to pierce the dermis once they've 'sprouted' from their follicle. They continue to grow at a normal rate, but remain stuck underneath our skin. Apart from being unsightly, they can be really painful. They can become red or inflamed, turn in to nasty boils or scar our skin. They're most common after waxing or shaving and can affect any depilated zone - legs, bikini line, underarms...
Ingrown hairs are caused by numerous factors. Firstly, there's the type of hair - curly hair, for example will curl back on itself as it grows. Then there's the type of razor used - double or triple-bladed razors pull back hair before cutting it, meaning it regrows in the wrong direction. Waxing pulls the hair out of its follicle, so it grows back in any old direction. Finally body hair has a hard time piercing its way through dry skin.
Regularly using a fine grain body scrub or AHA-based lotion can prevent the appearance of ingrown hairs. A weekly body scrub will remove dead skin cells, meaning hairs can more easily pierce your skin. Scrubbing with a loofah once a month will also deeply exfoliate your skin. And moisturise daily to keep your skin soft and fine - the drier your skin, the harder it is for hairs to pierce its surface. Creams, lotions, milks, oils... Moisturise after your bath/shower and massage on a nourishing oil (coconut, sweet almond or argan oil) after every hair removal session.
Scrupulous hygiene is essential if you want to avoid ingrown hairs. Make sure you wash razors, tweezers and spatulas after each use. Disinfect any areas to be waxed/shaved with an alum stone before and after each session.. If a rash appears, apply a topical antiseptic for a few minutes to disinfect and calm your skin.
We've all tried to squeeze out ingrown hairs... And faced the consequences! Your best bet is to let the hair grow eventually grow its way out. But knowing that the temptation to pick may be too strong... You can apply an exfoliating lotion to the hair for a few days, making sure that you religiously disinfect the area. Then cover it with a hot flannel to soften your skin. Disinfect some tweezers, wash your hands and tweeze out the hair. Give it a brisk tug, so that its root is removed. Follow by applying an antiseptic or aloe vera gel.
If your ingrown hairs are too much to bear, you can try laser treatments. Whilst hair distribution follows its own course, laser treatments will zap ingrown hairs after a few sessions. Their follicle is destroyed, meaning they can't grow back. Any remaining hair will be left finer, so it can pierce your skin.