ZocdocAnswersWhat exactly are ingrown hairs and how do you make them go away?

Question

What exactly are ingrown hairs and how do you make them go away?

I have these red bumps on my legs and my girlfriend said that they are ingrown hairs. What is an ingrown hair exactly? Is there any way to make them go away or stop them from happening?

Answer

Ingrown hair is a benign condition that occurs when a shaved or tweezed hair curls back on itself and grows sideways into the skin, causing inflammation and irritation. When the hair is cut short and close to the skin, it creates a sharp tip that can more easily pierce the skin to cause an ingrown hair. The appearance of an ingrown hair includes (1) small, solid round bumps, (2) pus-filled, blister-like lesions, (3) skin darkening, (4) embedded hairs, and (5) pain and itching skin. While aggressive hair removal, such as shaving and waxing, is the leading cause of ingrown hairs, sometimes an ingrown hair occurs naturally as too much dead skin debris blocks the skin pore, forcing the hair to grow sideways and remain embedded in the skin. Treatment depends on what causes your ingrown hairs. If shaving is the cause, you may prevent ingrown hairs from happening by shaving when your skin is soften (i.e., after a shower or bath). It is also good idea to shave in the same direction of the hair. You can try a topical application such as a salicyclic acid solution which also aids dramatically in the treatment of the ingrown hair. Although ingrown hairs may resolve with some home remedies, complications such as bacterial infection of skin and permanent scarring can occur so it is good idea to have your red bumps evaluated by a primary care physician or dermatologist and treated by a professional if warranted. Your doctor can also rule out some other skin conditions that also give you red bumps, such as eczema or keratosis pilaris.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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