Ingrown hairs are a common, painful problem and many people wonder why they experience them and what they are exactly. These are hairs that have curled around and grown back or sideways into your skin, rather than rising up from it – as with normal hair growth.
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When dead skin clogs a hair follicle, it may force the hair inside it to grow sideways under the skin, rather than upward and outward. Other times, cutting naturally curly hair too closely may result in the sharpened end of the hair piercing the skin, thereby causing an ingrown hair. An ingrown hair usually causes irritation to the skin, as they produce raised red bumps that look like small pimples.
Sometimes an ingrown hair may even form a painful, boil-like sore. Aside from being itchy and uncomfortable, some bumps may also have pus inside. Although ingrown hair is generally medically harmless, it may become cosmetically disfiguring and can also lead to scarring, skin discoloration, infection, and in rare cases even keloid scar formation. Although it is possible to get ingrown hair anywhere on the body, in men, they are most common in the form of a cluster of little bumps on the chin, cheeks, or neck after shaving.
In women, ingrown hairs are usually found on the legs, as well as in the pubic area and armpits.
People with high levels of androgen (the male hormone) may experience excessive hair growth, which makes it more likely to get ingrown hairs, especially after shaving.
Causes of Ingrown Hair
Although anybody may get an ingrown hair, the problem is more prevalent in those who have more curly or coarse hair. Curly hair tends to be more likely to bend back and re-enter the skin, particularly after it has been shaved or cut. Also, since many men shave everyday, and the skin on the face is especially sensitive; men are more likely to suffer from razor bumps than women. Shaving against the direction of hair growth is another factor that has been known to increase the likelihood of getting razor bumps and ingrown hair. Sometimes tweezing can also leave hair fragments under the skin. These fragments clog up the hair follicles and may lead to ingrown hair. Friction and sweating due to tight clothing has also been known to worsen the situation. Tight clothing and synthetic fabrics, like nylon leggings, skinny jeans and polyester underwear can aggravate ingrown hairs, especially if worn during exercise.
Even though an ingrown hair is primarily caused by improper or aggressive hair removal, it may also occur naturally when too much dead skin debris blocks the hair follicle opening, causing the hair to grow sideways. This happens more frequently among those who not exfoliate the skin before and after hair removal, especially shaving. The loosening of the skin that occurs during exfoliation, sometimes allows the hair follicle to open up and subsequently the hair can grow out.
The most common symptoms of ingrown hair are itchiness and tenderness. In some cases, an ingrown hair can also lead to a localized foreign-body inflammatory reaction, which causes small red or pink bumps on the skin. Bumps may appear slightly red or have a light-red halo indicating inflammation. Sometimes the curled hair is also slightly visible at the center of the bump. Small pus bumps or dry red bumps are often scattered over an area that has been shaved recently. The bumps usually begin to appear a few days or weeks after hair removal and tend to worsen as the hairs grow back.
Type of ingrown hair
The type of ingrown hair that is usually developed among people with thick or curly hair is known as pseudofolliculitis, or more commonly as “razor bumps”. Razor bumps usually appear after an area is shaved, waxed or tweezed due to the hair growing having a sharper edge, therefore more easily poking back through and getting trapped under the skin’s surface.
There are two variations of razor bumps: extrafollicular and transfollicular. In extrafollicular bumps, the hair turns around and grows inwards without exiting the skin. In transfollicular razor bumps, the hair exits the skin and reenters it, sometimes leaving a small amount of exposed hair.
In some rare cases of razor bumps, pustules and abscesses may form on the skin, especially if there are bacteria present. In chronic or inadequately treated situations, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, scarring, and although rare, keloid formation may also occur.
Laser Hair Removal can be used to successfully treat ingrown hairs and is one of the most commonly performed procedures at Q Esthetics Laser Clinic, providing optimal results in permanent hair removal for men and women of all skin types. For more information about laser hair removal, ingrown hair treatment and to find out how we can assist you, please call one of our convenient, GTA Q Esthetics Laser Clinics to schedule a complimentary consultation today. Our experienced medical staff will assess your skin and hair type to ensure the right option is offered for your specific needs.
Related Links: PRP Therapy , Light Therapy , Laser Hair Removal , Microdermabrasion
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