Ingrown hairs are a common problem among women. They occur when hair grows into the skin, causing it to become irritated or inflamed. These ingrown hairs may cause pain and itchiness in your groin area (vulva). There are various causes of ingrown hairs such as shaving, sunburn, excessive sweating, pregnancy and even sexual activity. Most often these ingrown hairs go away on their own but sometimes they need medical attention.
The most common treatment for ingrown hairs is topical creams which contain salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is a mild exfoliant used to remove dead skin cells. It works by breaking down the keratin layer of the skin and making it smoother.
This helps reduce irritation caused by ingrown hairs. Other treatments include using ice packs, applying glycolic peels, laser therapy and other methods like waxing and depilatory surgery.
There are several types of ingrown hairs including:
1) Acne vulgaris – this type of ingrown hair occurs due to acne.
It is usually located around the genitals and thighs. If left untreated, it will lead to scarring and loss of function.
2) Vulvar lichen sclerosus – this type of ingrown hair occurs due to overgrowth of yeast called candida albicans in the genital area.
It can cause itching in the genital region. It is seen to occur more in postmenopausal women.
3) Lichen planus – this type of ingrown hair occurs due to an allergic reaction that affects the skin and mucous membranes.
It affects the genital region and can cause scarring and skin discoloration.
4) Viral warts – these warts are commonly caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is a sexually transmitted disease.
It can cause genital warts hence the name. It is common in sexually active women especially those who are young.
You can read more about Treating and Preventing Ingrown Hairs and Scars.
Treating and Preventing Ingrown Hairs and Scars
Shaving, waxing and laser hair removal are the most common methods used for hair removal. However, these methods can lead to ingrown hairs. The best way to prevent them is by exfoliating the skin with a loofah or an exfoliating scrub at least three times a week.
You can also use products that contain alpha hydroxy acids, which promote exfoliation of dead skin cells. One of the best products that contain alpha hydroxy acids is Peter Thomas Roth’s gel10% AHA Exfoliating Gel. Alpha hydroxy acids are also beneficial because they enhance the penetration of skin care products and help fade dark spots and blemishes.
The following tips will also help you prevent ingrown hairs:
Wash the shaved area with warm water and apply a gentle cleanser or an exfoliant to remove dead skin cells from the surface. This will help hairs slip through the skin more easily.
If you are prone to ingrown hairs, do not scrub the area too hard while bathing or showering as this can cause the hairs to curl back into the skin.
Try to keep your skin hydrated by using an unscented lotion or cream that is oil free.
Waxing is another hair removal method that should be avoided if you are prone to ingrown hairs. Instead try using a cream that depilates the hairs.
Ingrown hairs can be treated with over the counter products that contain salicylic acid or retinol. Alternatively, see your dermatologist for an expert solution to prevent ingrown hairs.
Ingrown hairs can occur anywhere in the body where you shave or wax. The neck, underarms, bikini line, legs and arms are more prone to ingrown hairs than others. Ingrown hairs around the genitals are also common especially among males who undergo circumcision.
However, females can also get them on or around the genitals.
In men, the hairs of the groin area commonly become ingrown after shaving or waxing. This is more likely to occur when hair is trimmed too short. The ingrown hairs can become infected with bacteria found in the feces and cause redness and swelling.
In women, the underarms, bikini line and legs are common areas for getting an ingrown hair. It is not unusual for women to use tweezers to pluck any ingrown hairs; however, this can lead to scarring or skin discoloration.
Ingrown hairs can be itchy or painful. If left untreated, they can lead to infection. The best way to get rid of an ingrown hair is by properly exfoliating the skin with an exfoliant or scrub.
You can then either shave or wax the area. Make sure that you apply a soothing lotion or cream to reduce any potential irritation and redness. If you have a lot of ingrown hairs, see your dermatologist as you may have a genetic tendency to grow ingrown hairs. He or she will recommend suitable prevention methods and products. You should also see a dermatologist if the ingrown hairs do not disappear with exfoliation and homecare.
Ingrown hairs are quite common, especially among those with thick body hair. The best way to remove an ingrown hair is by exfoliating the skin and applying soothing creams or lotions. If ingrown hairs are a persistent problem, see your doctor.
With tender loving care, the ingrown hair should disappear in a few days. It is also important not to shave or wax the affected area for a while to allow the skin to heal properly.
Here are some tips which can prevent you getting an ingrown hair in the first place:
Exfoliate your skin on a regular basis to remove dead skin cells and keep the pores clear. Apply a body scrub and wash off with lukewarm water.
Use a washcloth to wipe off any loose hairs after you have shaved or waxed the area. Do not press down too hard as this can cause the hairs to break below the skin surface.
Trim long hair on your legs, underarms and bikini line with scissors or a hair trimmer rather than shaving. Longer hair is more likely to curl back and become ingrown.
Wear loose clothing after you have had a wax to prevent the heat from your body molding the wax to your skin. This can cause the hairs to pierce the skin as they grow back.
Do not shave too close as this can cause the hair to break below skin level. Use a fresh razor and plenty of shaving cream or gel.
Use an exfoliating scrub on your legs, underarms and bikini line before you wax. This will remove any dead skin cells and keep the pores clear. Be careful not to use these products on your face as they can be too agressive and cause small wounds that are more likely to become infected.
Soak in a warm bath for about 10 minutes before you shave or wax. This will open up the pores and soften the hair for easy removal.
Use a separate pair of scissors to trim coarse body hair. Snip the hair at the skin level to avoid breakage.
Do not overdo it when you are tweezing. You should also use a clean pair of tweezers for each area to prevent the transfer of bacteria or fungus.
Do not press the tweezers too hard as this can cause the hairs to break and become ingrown.
Wash your hands thoroughly before and after you tweeze or pluck. Germs on your hand can be transferred to the sensitive skin of your bikini line, leading to irritation and infection.
Do not use products that contain alcohol or astringents within 48 hours of waxing as this can lead to excessive skin damage. If you usually use an exfoliant, choose one that is not too agressive.
After you have shaved or waxed, apply a soothing cream to the skin.
While shaving and waxing reduces the time you spend on regular grooming, it can leave your skin vulnerable to irritation and infection. It is important to maintain your health by washing your hands before you begin your grooming routine and keeping them away from your freshly shaved skin.
If you are prone to ingrown hairs, using a separate pair of tweezers for your eyebrows and bikini line can prevent the transfer of bacteria from one area to another. You might also want to try an epilator which removes hair at the root, so it is not as likely to grow back.
Bleaching Your Skin
Tanned skin is the ideal for many people as it gives the impression that you have plenty of time to laze around doing nothing. Unfortunately a sun tan has its drawbacks as it causes your skin to age prematurely and increases your risk of skin cancer. If you absolutely have to have that tan, then make sure that you protect your skin by using sunscreen with a high SPF, reapplying it every couple of hours and wearing a wide brimmed hat when you are exposed to the sun for long periods of time.
Staying out of the sun, or at least avoiding it’s rays in the peak hours between ten in the morning and four in the afternoon, are good ways to ensure that you don’t burn. You can still assume a tan appearance by using a tanning bed or self-tanner. Either way you still have to put up with that awful fake tan smell.
Another way of achieving a tanned appearance is to use a product that bleaches your skin but doesn’t actually dye it. Whiteners come in a variety of forms from lotions that you rub into the skin, to creams and gels that you apply with a thin brush. Although this approach doesn’t have any smell, it can’t hide freckles or other discolorations so if you have patches of dark skin it is best to find another method.
You can also try to even out your skin tone with a lightening powder or liquid. These products can be found in most pharmacies and grocery stores, usually near the makeup counter. There are two types of bleaching products that you can choose from.
The first is a cream that you apply before you go out into the sun. It acts as a base on which to get a tan. If you decide to use one of these, be sure to buy one designed for your skin type.
Using the wrong one can cause your skin to burn more easily.
The second type of lightening product is a liquid that you can add to your moisturizer. This works in a similar fashion to the cream but is less likely to irritate your skin.
Sources & references used in this article:
Treatment of pitted scars: punch transplant technique by WC JOHNSON – The Journal of dermatologic surgery and …, 1986 – Wiley Online Library
Shaving preparation for treatment and prevention of PFB (Ingrown Hairs) by MD Moore – US Patent 4,944,939, 1990 – Google Patents
Chronic scarring pseudofolliculitis of the Negro beard by H Pinkus – Archives of Dermatology and Syphilology, 1943 – jamanetwork.com
Recalcitrant scarring follicular disorders treated by laser‐assisted hair removal: a preliminary report by CT Chui, TG Berger, VH Price… – Dermatologic …, 1999 – Wiley Online Library
Use of hair grafting in scar camouflage by L Barr, A Barrera – Facial Plastic Surgery Clinics, 2011 – facialplastic.theclinics.com
Follicular and scarring disorders in skin of color: presentation and management by P Madu, RV Kundu – American journal of clinical dermatology, 2014 – Springer
Acne keloidalis is a form of primary scarring alopecia by LC Sperling, C Homoky, L Pratt, P Sau – Archives of dermatology, 2000 – jamanetwork.com
Pseudofolliculitis barbae: review and update on new treatment modalities by J Garcia-Zuazaga – Military medicine, 2003 – academic.oup.com