Ingrown hairs occur when a hair grows sideways or curls back into the skin. It can present as a small red bump, a curly hair that comes out of the skin and then re-enters it, or a larger, pus-filled sore.
There are a variety of causes for ingrown hairs. The most common include shaving and waxing, although ingrown hairs can occur for absolutely no reason. Darker skin types and people with curly hair tend to experience ingrown hairs more often. They can also be caused by poor skin maintenance, as dead skin cells and other debris can block the hair follicle, causing the hair to grow in the wrong direction.
The main symptoms of ingrown hairs include itchiness and tenderness at the site. Inflammation can also occur, which appears as red or pink bumps on the skin. The bumps can become infected and pus-filled, particularly as the hair grows back after shaving and the condition worsens.
Proper shaving techniques and preparation of the skin prior to shaving can help to prevent ingrown hairs. Using a sharp blade which glides smoothly across the surface of the skin removes the need to apply force to the razor, which can lead to the hair being cut off below the top layer of skin.
It is also important to use shaving cream or gel to prevent the hair being forced beneath the skin.
An ingrown hair will sometimes dislodge itself, however in most cases it will need some encouragement. Tweezers are the most common form of removal. Some topical creams can help to draw them out. By far the most effective treatment is complete hair removal using IPL technology.