Understanding the Causes and Natural Remedies for Ingrown Hairs

Ingrown hairs are a common and often uncomfortable skin condition that occurs when hair curls back or grows sideways into the skin instead of upward and out of the surface of the skin. While ingrown hairs can affect anyone, ingrown hairs are particularly prevalent among individuals with coarse or curly hair (hello and thank you melanin).

In this blog post, we’ll delve into what ingrown hairs are, how they occur, where they occur, and most importantly, how to prevent and treat them naturally.

What are Ingrown Hairs and Where Do they Occur?

Image from the Panoram Dermatology Clinic

Regardless of your gender, we have pores on the majority of our bodies (and most of us also have hair growing out of those pores). That being said, ingrown hair can happen to ANYONE and it can happen almost ANYWHERE. Well, you won’t have ingrown hair on your nails, the souls of your feet, or the palms of your hands. Some of ingrown hair, as the name implies, is hair that grows INTO the skin instead of OUT of the skin, they occur when a hair follicle becomes trapped beneath the skin’s surface.

How do you know you have ingrown hair? The area affected by the ingrown hair can be inflammation, and become red with a pot of puss where (these can become an infection under the “right” conditions. 

Hair that is growing into the skin can appear as small, raised bumps or as painful, pus-filled lesions. They are most likely to occur when one has just cut their hair and the new hair has not been able to break the skin surface. Whether you shave your legs, armpits, face/beard, or mustache you are more likely to experience ingrown hair if you have tightly curled or kinky hair. 

What Causes Ingrown Hairs?

The irritation of ingrown hair is not limited to those with curly and kinky hair. Although kinky or tightly coiled hair is more likely to bend back and re-enter the skin after shaving or waxing. Several other factors may also contribute to ingrown or exaggerate the amount of ingrown hair developing on your skin:

  1. Hair removal techniques that are aggressive on your skin: Shaving too closely, using dull razors, or waxing improperly can cause hairs to break off unevenly, increasing the risk of ingrown hairs.
  2. Tight clothing: wearing tight clothing, especially in areas where hair grows densely, can trap hairs beneath the skin’s surface.
  3. Excessive dead skin cells: the build-up of dead skin cells can clog hair follicles, leading to ingrown hairs.
Image from Acne.Org

Preventing Ingrown Hairs:

Ingrown hairs don’t choose genders, ages, or regions! Both men and women (of all ages) can take steps to prevent ingrown hairs in different areas of the body:

  • Use a sharp razor and shave in the direction of hair growth to minimize irritation. Experiment with the number of blades that work for you, or the types of creams that work on your skin.
  • Moisturizing the skin regularly to keep it soft and hydrated, reduces the likelihood of hairs becoming trapped.
  • Exfoliate with a sugar or salt scrub. Scrubbing (your whole body not just your face) regularly removes dead skin cells and prevents your hair follicles from becoming blocked with products, sweat, or dead skin. You can also use a pumice stone on your body, but please be gentle.
  • Take a break from cutting or shaving your hair in the areas where you are most affected by ingrown hair. It might feel uncomfortable if you are used to being clean-shaven all the time, but your skin will be glad for it.

How can you Treat Ingrown Hairs?

Nature offers the best remedies for major and minor ailments alike,  ingrown hair is one of those, and has readily available remedies. These natural remedies are gentle, effective, and easy to acquire. Tea tree oil, aloe vera gel, homemade sugar or salt scrubs as well as warm compresses can help exfoliate the skin, open up pores, and facilitate the removal or prevention of ingrown hairs.  Here is a bit more information on how and why these natural remedies work:

  1. Tea-tree essential oil is known for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Mixed with a moisturizing carrier oil like olive or castor oil, tea-tree essential oil can reduce the inflammation caused by ingrown hair. Apply diluted tea tree oil to the affected area using a cotton ball or your fingers in a circular motion.
  2. Aloe Vera Gel: Aloe vera soothes irritated skin and promotes healing. Apply fresh aloe vera gel or aloe vera-based skincare products to ingrown hair-prone areas to alleviate discomfort. You can also apply aloe vera gel to an area where you have just extracted ingrown hair to promote healing.
  3. Sugar or salt Scrub: If you don’t have any of these items in your home, you can create a sugar or salt scrub. Mixing sugar or salt with olive oil or coconut oil in a bowl and transfer to a storage container. Gently massage the scrub onto damp skin to exfoliate and prevent ingrown hairs.
  4. Warm Compress: Applying a warm compress to ingrown hair bumps can help soften the skin, open up pores, and facilitate hair removal. Soak a clean cloth or towel in warm water and apply it to the affected area for 5-10 minutes after you bath or shower.

These natural remedies relieve discomfort and promote healthy, smooth skin without harsh chemicals or irritants.

Ingrown hairs can be uncomfortable and lead to an infection, but with proper prevention and natural remedies, they can be effectively managed. By adopting gentle hair removal techniques, exfoliating regularly, and using natural remedies such as tea tree oil and aloe vera you can keep ingrown hairs at bay and enjoy smoother, healthier-looking skin.

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