Thursday, July 2, 2020

Ingrown Hairs—what they are and what to do about them?

Ingrown hairs are basically hairs that have lost their way. Instead of moving directly up the hair follicle, which is cylindrical like a tunnel, the hair curls around and remains either close to the surface of the skin or actually makes its way back down to the base of the follicle. This inability to reach the skin’s surface and eventual exit above it causes an ingrown hair.

Ingrown hairs are a problem for many people, but men tend to have the most trouble with ingrown hairs on their faces, which look like irritated bumps on the skin. This is especially true for African-American men because dark-skinned people generally have curly and coarse hair. Curlier hair has a more difficult time finding the surface of the skin. These ingrown hairs may cause inflammation to occur, which is a condition called pseudofolliculitis barbae.

Ingrown hairs generally form after the hair in a particular area has been cut, waxed, or in some other way removed. Some say that pulling the hair out against the natural grain (most waxing procedures follow this rule) can cause the hair to break just below the surface. Then when the dead cells set in, the hair can’t find an exit, causing an ingrown hair.

Exfoliation is really important if you’re prone to ingrown hairs—no matter where you get them. If they occur on your face, using a scrub or other exfoliator on a regular basis should help to alleviate the problem. This is where alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) may come in handy. Several of my male clients have seen good results with their ingrown hair problems by using products that contain this ingredient. AHAs help to dissolve the intercellular glue that holds cells together, which can be helpful in the case of ingrown hairs. AHAs may work well for women who find ingrown hairs are a problem in the bikini line area.

Women who get ingrown hairs on their legs can try using AHAs, but because of the large surface area of the legs this could get quite expensive. Using exfoliation gloves may be your best bet. The gloves give you the ability to regulate pressure and therefore not irritate the skin. Do be careful not to rub too hard with these gloves. They are abrasive and too much of a good thing can turn bad.
Exfoliation gloves can be found at most stores where cosmetics are sold. They’re easy to use and are machine washable. Unlike a loofah, you can get them clean and bacteria free between uses. They aren’t very expensive so you could get several pairs and just throw them in the wash after each use. They make great gifts too. Put them in a basket with bath and body products and maybe a scented candle, and you will make someone very happy.

If you have irritation bumps with the ingrown hairs, be careful when you shave over this area. You can easily break open the skin and cause further irritation and possibly spread infection.

A product called TendSkin (see upcoming post) has been helpful for some people with ingrown hairs. Be careful to follow the directions and do not use on a large area of the face. Men’s skin tends to be less sensitive than women’s, but even so, if you are a man and have ingrown hair in your beard area, be careful to apply this product appropriately. If you experience irritation with TendSkin, discontinue use immediately and refer back to some other products and techniques for helping with ingrown hairs. You don’t ever want to use a product that is causing more harm than good.

In the end, no matter where the ingrown hairs are forming, exfoliation is the best course of treatment before trying to remove them. Read other posts on this frustrating condition: , What are razor bumps?, and many more articles under the category hair removal.

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