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How to Deal with Ingrown Hairs - Preventing and Treating to Avoid and Reduce

Updated on January 1, 2012

What are Ingrown Hairs? How do they Arise?

How to Deal with Ingrown Hairs? They are ugly and painful. Simple as that. Nicknamed razor bumps, ingrown hairs are the result of shaved hair getting trapped under the follicle of the skin or even worse, grows into the skin. These could cause very visible redness and swelling and very often lead to pimples growing around the hair. Ultimately, scarring may occur.

Ingrown hairs arise when the hair is sharpened after you shave it. Think of a pencil and you sharpen it with a craft knife. This is the exact same scenario except your hair is the pencil and the razor is the craft knife. The shaft of the hair is sharpened and is able to cut into the follicle as it grows. Similar to other cuts, redness and inflammation may occur.

Both men and women from all ages will have experienced ingrown hairs at one stage or another through their shaving life, but thankfully there are very simple steps to reducing and treating ingrown hairs and also preventing and how to avoid ingrown hairs in the future.

Photo taken by gurana
Photo taken by gurana

Initial Preparations to Shaving to Prevent and Avoid Ingrown Hairs

  • Before shaving, clean your wash with a quick wash to open and clear your pores of dirt
  • Exfoliate you skin to remove the dead cells on the outer layer 
  • Use a soft cleanser to gently dislodge the tips of the ingrown hair out of the skin and also sanitize the area before shaving.
  • Always use shaving gel, cream or foam; or any other shaving lubricant and make sure it is not alcohol based.
  • Lubricants will ensure you won't receive any nasty nips and we want a non alcoholic based lubricant because alcohol will dry up out skin, hair root and follicle therefore tightening your pores.

Photo taken by Lovro67
Photo taken by Lovro67

How to Prevent and Avoid Ingrown Hairs From the Way You Shave

For most of us, cleaning and keeping good hygiene is a natural habit. It is the actual act of shaving that is causing the ingrown hairs and razor bumps.

  • Follow the initial preparations shown earlier such as cleaning, exfoliating and using shaving lubricants.
  • If you were to choose between shaving gel or foam, always opt for the shaving gel. This is because foam often irritate the skin by making it very dry, similar idea to that of avoiding alcohol based lubricants.
  • Shave using an electric razor if possible. These lower the chance of ingrown hairs because they do not shave as closely as a manual blade. Due to this, there is a lower chance for the hair to grow inwards into the skin. 
  • Always shave with the grain never against the grain. Shave in the same direction as the hair is naturally growing, so for the facial areas it would be downwards, and upwards for the neck region. For the arms and legs, it is obviously downwards away from you. Make sure to always shave the same direction. It is better to shave the same area twice in the correct direction than a rough shave from the opposing direction.

What if You Already Have them? Tips to Reduce Ingrown Hair

If you already have ingrown hairs or razor bumps, which most of us will probably have on some part of our body, there are a few steps you can take to help reduce ingrown hairs.

  • If it is very shallow, use tweezers and try to dislodge the hair. You will most likely have the urge to pluck it out entirely but do not do this!
  • Just leave it and after a few hours it should be exactly the same as your other hairs.
  • In cases where pus and pimples have formed around the hair, or if redness is clearly visible, make sure to clean the area with your face wash to clear out the acne causing bacteria.


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    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 7 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Useful tips for dealing with these annoying bumps. Thanks