Management and Treatment
How are ingrown hairs treated?
There are several ways to treat ingrown hairs at home, including:
- Stop shaving and allow the hair to grow.
- Use an electric shaver. Hold it just above the surface of your skin.
- Use depilatory products to remove hair without shaving. Depilatory products dissolve the protein structures of your hair.
- Apply warm compresses to your affected skin for 10 to 15 minutes to open your pores and make it easier for ingrown hairs to release.
If your symptoms don’t improve, your healthcare provider may need to prescribe medications that decrease inflammation and improve infections.
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In rare cases, your healthcare provider may use a sterile surgical knife with a thin blade (scalpel) to make a small cut in your affected areas. They’ll squeeze out any pus and use sterile tweezers to remove the ingrown hair.
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To prevent scarring or infection, don’t pick at, scratch or pop your ingrown hairs.
How do you remove an ingrown hair?
To remove an ingrown hair, gently exfoliate your skin. Exfoliating your skin removes a dead layer of skin cells and helps release ingrown hairs. Use warm — not hot — water and small, circular motions to wash your affected areas with a washcloth, exfoliating brush or exfoliating gel or scrub.
You can also remove an ingrown hair that has looped or curled back into your skin by gently pulling it out with a sterile needle, pin or tweezers. Apply rubbing alcohol to your surrounding skin to prevent an infection. Then, carefully thread the sterile needle, pin or tweezers through the exposed hair loop. Gently lift the hair loop until one end releases from your skin.
What will happen if an ingrown hair goes untreated?
In most cases, ingrown hairs usually heal themselves within one to two weeks with only minor irritation, as they eventually release from your skin as they grow longer. Infections can develop around the ingrown hair, causing pus formation, discoloration and pain, though. If you see signs of infection, you should visit your healthcare provider.
What medications are used to treat ingrown hair?
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Your healthcare provider may provide medications that can decrease inflammation and improve infections from ingrown hairs, including:
- Antibiotic ointment or pills.
- Prescription acne medications, like retinoids, to help remove dead skin.
- Steroid pills or creams help reduce inflammation.
For more serious cases, your healthcare provider may recommend other hair removal options, including:
- Electrolysis. This technique uses a tiny needle and a mild electrical zap to destroy your hair roots one by one. Each hair follicle requires treatment, so it may not be practical to use electrolysis over a large area of your body.
- Laser hair removal. In this technique, heat from a laser destroys cells that have a lot of pigment (color). This works best on dark hair.
How soon after treatment will I feel better?
Most ingrown hairs will go away on their own without treatment after a few days; though, severe cases may take several weeks.
Medications may take a few days to see results. The results of electrolysis and laser hair removal are immediate.
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