Ingrown hairs occur when hair curls around and grows back into the skin or if dead skin clogs the hair follicle and forces it to grow sideways. Ingrown hairs are often itchy and slightly painful. They look like small red dots on your skin, roughly the size of a pimple, and can become infected. Often, ingrown hairs will disappear on their own. If you have a stubborn ingrown hair, try loosening it with an exfoliator and a warm compress, and then pulling the hair loose with a pair of sterile tweezers.
- How do you draw out an ingrown hair?
- Can you pop an ingrown hair?
- How long does it take for an ingrown hair to go away?
- How do you treat an infected ingrown hair?
- How do you get an ingrown hair out that you can’t see?
- Is it bad to squeeze out ingrown hairs?
Helping the Ingrown Hair Clear on Its Own
- Give the ingrown hair a week to clear up. In most cases, ingrown hairs will disappear without any intervention on your part. Typically, the ingrown hair will find a way to grow out through the skin that’s been blocking it. While waiting for the ingrown hair to clear up, do not pick or scratch at the ingrown hair.
- While you’re waiting for the ingrown hair to disappear, avoid shaving over the bump. If you nick the area, you’ll risk infecting or worsening the ingrown hair.
- Apply a dab of acne medication to the ingrown hair. Ingrown hairs are pretty similar to pimples, especially when the ingrown hair is accompanied by pus. Apply benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid several times a day for a few days. This, combined with daily exfoliation, is often enough to remove the ingrown hair since swelling will be reduced, giving the hair more room to grow out (rather than in).
- You can purchase acne cream at any drugstore or pharmacy.
- Apply a steroid cream to an infected ingrown hair. If your ingrown hair starts to fill with white or yellow pus, it’s infected. In this situation, before you remove the hair, you must treat the infection. Do this by rubbing a small dollop of steroid cream on the top of the infected skin. The cream will reduce swelling and help clear up the infection.
- Some steroid creams—like cortisone—are available over the counter. For a stronger steroid, visit your doctor, and ask for a prescription to a steroid cream.
Extracting the Hair
- 1Exfoliate the area to remove the skin covering the ingrown hair. Twice a day, scrub the ingrown hair gently using an over-the-counter exfoliator or an exfoliating glove. This will help to remove any dead skin cells, dirt, and oils that might be trapping the ingrown hair. It may also physically nudge the tip of the hair out of your skin. Try to hit the ingrown hair from a variety of directions, to loosen as much of the surrounding skin as possible.
- You can purchase an exfoliating scrub or a loofah glove at your local supermarket or at a drug store.
- Do not damage the surrounding skin through exfoliation. You’ll need to exfoliate enough to loosen the skin covering the ingrown hair but shouldn’t exfoliate so much that it damages your skin. If the area surrounding the ingrown hair becomes painful, looks raw, or starts to bleed, stop exfoliating immediately.
- When in doubt, exfoliate more gently but for a longer period. Say, 10 minutes.
- Apply a warm, moist washcloth to the area for a few minutes. Wet a washcloth with hot water, wring it out, and press it against the ingrown hair for 3-4 minutes. When the washcloth cools down, run it under hot water again. This will soften the skin and bring the ingrown hair to the surface, making it easier to pluck out.
- If you can see the ingrown hair embedded in the skin, this treatment will soften the hair and bring it closer to the surface. If you can’t initially see the hair, leave the washcloth on until it rises to the skin’s surface.
- Tease the hair out of the skin using a sterile needle and tweezers. It may take a little time to coax the hair out, so persevere and do not cut the skin. Once you’ve exposed the tip of the hair with the needle, use a pair of sharp-tipped tweezers to pull the end of the hair out of the skin. Don’t pluck the hair out completely if you can avoid doing so; just make sure that the ingrown end is out of the skin.
- Sometimes you’ll see a “loop” in the ingrown hair: the top of the hair where, instead of growing out through the skin, it curves over and grows down or sideways. This means that the tip of the hair has begun growing down into the skin. Try to pass the tip of a needle through the curve at the top of the ingrown hair and tug lightly. The end will often come loose.
- If you don’t see the loop of the ingrown hair after exfoliating your skin and applying the warm washcloth, don’t dig for the hair. You could damage your skin or draw blood.
- You can sterilize your tools by boiling them in water or by cleaning them with rubbing alcohol or running them through a hot flame until they turn bright red. If you heat them, let them completely cool before using them.
- Wash your hands before working on an ingrown hair and consider wearing nitrile gloves to prevent the spread of any bacteria.
Keeping the Skin Clear of Ingrown Hairs
- Wash often-shaved areas with warm water and moisturizing soap. Hairs are most likely to become ingrown in areas of your body that you shave often. So, keep these areas clean by washing them often. If you get ingrown hairs frequently, you can also apply an antiseptic to provide extra protection against infection.
- You may also wish to apply a daily topical solution to prevent any further ingrown hairs from developing.
- Rinse the area you’ll shave with warm water before shaving. If you shave your face when it’s dry, you’ll put yourself at a higher risk for getting ingrown hairs. So, rinse with warm water 2 or 3 minutes before shaving. You can also wash with a mild facial cleanser before you shave. When you apply your shaving cream, let it sit for another 2 or 3 minutes to soften the skin before you begin shaving.
- Or, simply shave right after you get out of the shower. Your skin will already be warm and moist.
- Shave in the direction that your hair grows. While you can get a closer shave by shaving against the direction of hair growth, you’re less likely to get ingrown hairs if you shave in the same direction. Also try not to give yourself too close of a shave. Hairs that have been shaved very closely are likely to grow back under the skin and become ingrown.
- The longer and straighter the hair, the less likely it is to curl back into the skin, so try shaving less closely by using a single-blade razor or electric shaver instead of a multi-blade razor.
- Sometimes, ingrown hairs that have grown deep into your skin may not budge at all. If these methods do not work, see your doctor or dermatologist to get a prescription medication.
- While ingrown hairs occur more commonly in individuals with curly hair, almost everybody will develop one at some point in their life.
- Always make sure that your razor is clean before use. Invest in a good quality shaving cream too, as some kinds even say they prevent ingrown hairs.
- Use a non-comedogenic moisturizer on any area prone to ingrown hairs. Non-comedogenic products don’t clog pores.
- If the inflammation extends beyond the immediate area of the hair follicle or persists for more than a few days after the hair has been freed, consider visiting a dermatologist or your primary care physician.
- Try not to squeeze the ingrown hair, or to “pop” it as you would a pimple. Squeezing can damage or break open the skin, which can infect the follicle.
Things You’ll Need
- Clean washcloth and warm water
- Sterile needle-nose tweezers
- A small needle
- Moisturizer or moisturizing lotion
- Exfoliating cream
- Exfoliating loofah glove
- Topical antiseptic
- Rubbing alcohol