Suffering with ingrown hairs? Here’s how to treat them

Posted by
Chloe Burcham
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Ingrown hairs can range from annoying to downright uncomfortable. Want to nix those little bumps for good? We’re here to tell you how.

Whether you pluck, wax or shave, the chances are if you choose to remove your body hair, you’ll have probably suffered with an ingrown hair. 

These little bumps can range from mildly annoying to full on painful and, much like blemishes, they can be tempting to pick and squeeze. But as anyone who’s ever taken a pair of tweezers to a bikini-line bump will know, sometimes trying to remove an ingrown hair at home can cause more issues than it’s actually worth. 

So if you’re wondering what an ingrown hair is and how to avoid them, you’ve come to the right place. Consider this your ‘how to deal with an ingrown hair’ crib sheet…

What is an ingrown hair?

An ingrown hair occurs when a hair follicle that’s been tweezed or shaved grows back and gets blocked back in the skin. You might be able to see it as a tiny loop with both ends stuck in your skin. They can cause inflammation, redness, itching and/or pain in the form of a little bump where the hair was removed. 

Ingrown hairs often resemble whiteheads, as pus or fluid can also build around the inflamed area, causing pain and discomfort. Anyone can get ingrown hairs, although they are often more common for those with thick, coarse or curly hair types ⁠– as these hairs are more likely to bend back and re-enter the skin. 

Do ingrown hair bumps go away on their own?

While it can be tempting to squeeze or pick ingrown hairs, you risk causing damage to the skin if you try and remove an ingrown hair that’s not ready to come free. Most ingrown hairs typically go away on their own if you leave them. Sometimes they’ll resolve themselves in a couple of weeks but really stubborn hairs can take up to six months to completely go away on their own. So it’s easy to see why people try and tackle them at home. 

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How do you get rid of ingrown hairs?

If you don’t want to leave your ingrown hair to resolve itself on its own, there are ways to remove them at home. 

Step one: start by gently exfoliating the area to remove any build-up of dead skin cells that might be blocking the hair follicle from coming free. 

Step two: soften the skin by applying a warm compress over the affected area or by taking a warm bath. Once the skin has softened, the hair should come up to the surface of the skin more easily, allowing it to become more visible.

Step three: if you are able to see the loop of the hair on the skin’s surface, take a pair of sterile tweezers or a needle and gently pull the hair out of the skin. It’s best to avoid plucking the hair from the skin completely, until the area has fully healed, or else the skin will heal back over the hair follicle again. Don’t squeeze the area, as this will force the hair down further into the skin.  

What is the best treatment for ingrown hairs?

The best way to treat ingrown hairs is to take steps to prevent them from happening in the first place. Exfoliating regularly is important to keep your hair follicles open, so the hairs don’t get trapped under dead skin cells. You can do this in a number of different ways. Look for body products that contain gentle exfoliating acids like salicylic or glycolic acid or invest in a dry body brush.

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