The idea behind shaving is to be left with smooth, hair-free skin. But an unintended side effect of shaving can be ingrown hairs. Whether on your face, neck, underarms, legs or pubic region, these pimple-like bumps are what happens when the hair follicle grows back into the skin instead of growing out, causing an inflamed bump. Sometimes you can see the dark hair inside the bump. Ingrown hairs are more common if you have curly, coarse hair.
When this happens, don’t pick it and resist the urge to yank the hair out yourself. Doing so can lead to skin discoloration and permanent scaring. Most ingrown hairs will resolve themselves in a few days, just keep the area dry and clean and avoid shaving that area until the bump is gone. If you consistently get ingrown hairs, or if the ingrown hair results in hyperpigmentation (particularly on your face) consult a dermatologist.
“There are things we can do in the office to resolve an ingrown hair, in addition to discussing alternative methods for hair removal,” said Dr. David Weinstein, a dermatologist at UCF Health, the College of Medicine physician practice. “But there are steps you can take to try to avoid ingrown hairs from occurring.”
Dr. Weinstein’s Tips:
Shave WITH the grain – This might not get you the close shave you were hoping for, but it will reduce the chances for having the hair grow back into your skin. Also, don’t pull your skin taut when shaving and never do more than two passes over an area.
Exfoliate – You can use a warm, damp wash cloth to gently exfoliate the skin before shaving, or use a gentle exfoliation cream/wash. This can help lift any hairs that may be starting to grow inward.
Try a different hair removal process – Things like depilatory creams (like Nair) have less likelihood of producing ingrown hairs since the hair is dissolved rather than cut. Make sure to read the instructions and only use it on areas for which the product is approved. Laser hair removal or electrolysis are also options that eliminate the hair follicle long-term. Waxing and plucking are not recommend if you experience ingrown hairs.
Weekly Health Tips are brought to you by UCF Health, the College of Medicine’s physician practice. Offering primary and specialty care under one roof, UCF Health treats patients age 16 and up in primary care and age 18 and up for specialty care. Most major insurance plans are accepted. Two locations are now open: the original in East Orlando at Quadrangle and University boulevards just blocks from the main UCF campus, and the newest one in Medical City at Narcoossee Road and Tavistock Lakes Boulevard. Information for both facilities can be found at UCFHealth.com, or call (407) 266-DOCS to schedule an appointment.
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