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Ingrown hair
Ingrown hair

Welcome to the official site of Ingrown Hair Association (IHA). If you want to find out more about us, you can read about our activities and interests on the page that presents us. If you what to find out more about what is ingrown hair and how you can fight it, feel free to browse our site (also don't forget to read our disclaimer).


An ingrown hair is a skin condition that occurs when the tip of the hair, instead of growing outside takes a twist and grows under the skin. It is a distressing condition that appears as pink bumps or a small tan. Often, an underlying hair surfaces from the bump. Ingrown hairs are common in areas that are shaved frequently such as armpits, neck, legs, face and pubic areas.

Ingrown hair generally occurs after puberty. It commonly appears on areas that usually have coarse hairs. For example, in males, it includes face and neck areas. Ingrown hair is common in certain races, such as African Americans, who usually have coarse hair growth. On rare occasions, it appears on the toes and eyelids. It is also a common problem among teenagers.

Generally, there is no medical harm from the growth of ingrown hair. However, it is distressing cosmetically. It makes a person look ugly and results in scars and discoloration of skin. Sometimes, certain skin infections also appear because of this skin condition.

Causes of ingrown hair

There are several reasons why ingrown hair occurs.

Improper shaving techniques - This is one of the most common causes of developing ingrown hair. While shaving carelessly, it may happen that the top section of the fair follicle is amputated by mistake with the razor. As a result, the hair bends backwards and forms inside the skins, instead of getting a straight outward growth.

Waxing and plucking methods - Certain methods of hair removal such as threading and waxing may appear scientific, but it can cause of lot of trauma to your fair follicle. This is one reason for the growth of ingrown hair. This can be avoided by taking a sauna or using moisturizers to open up the follicles.

Dead skin deposition - Although an ingrown hair is generally occurs due to improper methods of hair removal, there are times when these occur naturally. Oftentimes, a lot of dead skin piles up and blocks the opening of hair follicle. This causes the hair to grow inwards.

Ingrown hair pictures

While ingrown hairs differ from person to person, it is sometimes helpful to see how ingrown hair develops to other people, in order to better understand how you can treat your own. We have listed bellow some representative ingrown hair photos:

Ingrown hair Ingrown hair on face Ingrown hair from shaving Ingrown hair after waxing
Ingrown hair Ingrown hair
on face
Ingrown hair
from shaving
Ingrown hair
after waxing

Signs and symptoms of an ingrown hair
  • The most common symptom is swelling followed by small bumps. From the center of the bump, one can see curled hair. What followed is an itchy sensation, redness and minor pain.
  • It may also lead to puss formation or dry reddish bumps in the affected areas. This is often scattered on the associated areas of the skin. The upper skin layers may have some dilation of the small superficial blood vessels, which gives the skin a red or flushed appearance.
  • Once the hair grows back on the area, it looks ugly, as the area also becomes vulnerable to whiteheads and acne whiteheads.
  • Abscesses can also develop on the ingrown hair sites. this also results into the formation of common bacterial infection in the skin called Staphylococcus.

It is important to remember that the faster the diagnosis is done and treatment started, the quicker would be the cure.

How is an ingrown hair diagnosed?

The diagnosis is very simple. It is based on the appearance of the skin. However, at times, the symptoms can be similar to some other skin conditions. But for some reason it may appear like the ingrown hair. Therefore, a dermatologist in most cases uses certain scientific diagnostic techniques to confirm the condition. Sometimes, doctors also go for a skin biopsy so as to confirm the diagnosis. In some cases, a culture for bacteria is taken. This test determines the cause of the infection.

Prevention of ingrown hairs

One simple and effective way to prevent the formation of ingrown hairs is just let it grow and not cutting it. Wrong shaving and waxing can be avoided as these are the key reasons for the growth of ingrown hairs. It is important to use a good hair-growth-inhibitor cream. However, electrolysis or lasers can be used to remove the hair permanently.

Treatment for ingrown hair
  • Exfoliation is one effective treatment is to scrub the area gently. This helps in removing any dirt or dead cells that are trapped inside the ingrown hair region. However, the treatment has to be done very carefully, with guidance from a trained physician, so as to avoid bleeding and other nuances.
  • Acne medication such as application of benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid can be effective in treating ingrown hair. It often reduces the pain and swelling.
  • A warm and moist compress also gives relief to the much disturbing area.
  • The area can also be washed with warm water and an antiseptic can be applied. it is recommended to wear loose-fitting dresses.
  • In chronic cases, electrolysis and laser treatment is required which are quite costly.
  • Natural treatment such as mud pack, aloe vera and sugar honey pack can be used for getting instant and cost effective results.