Ingrown Hairs? You Do Not Have to Put Up With It!

By Kevin C. Smith MD FACP FRCPC

Quite a few men and women are troubled from time to time (or in some cases all the time) by ingrown hairs. For men, ingrown hairs or “razor bumps” are mainly a problem on the front of the neck and under the chin. Women are most commonly bothered by this problem in the bikini area and occasionally in the armpits or on the front of the neck. Maybe you have sensitive skin? Read more about sensitive skin at Skin Care Guide.ca

Ingrown hairs can be more than a cosmetic problem. On the chin and the front of the neck, a severe case of ingrown hairs can interfere with the seal required for safe use of a gas mask, making the person ineligible for many jobs in the petrochemical industry, the police and fire services and the military. Ingrown hairs and razor bumps can also occasionally become infected and inflamed.

People with curly hair are at greater risk for ingrown hairs, because the hairs curl around and sometimes loop back into the skin. Ingrown hairs are more common in people who shave very closely, because sometimes the hairs retract slightly into the skin after shaving – and then cannot find a proper exit as they grow. Good advice for most people with ingrown hairs is: “If your skin FEELS very smooth right after you have shaved, it is likely that it will LOOK terrible in a few days, as the ingrown hairs develop.” ANY bleeding after you have shaved is evidence that you have shaved too close, and/or against the grain of your hair.

Tips for getting a better shave:

  • It is generally best to shave WITH the grain of the hair
  • Use a very LIGHT touch
  • Reduce your risk of shaving too closely by using a razor, which has a fine wire wrapped around the blades to keep them from coming too close to the skin
  • It is best to shave after a shower or bath, and to use shaving cream rather than soap (you can use any kind of shaving cream)

Waxing, plucking and sugaring can sometimes lead to the development of ingrown hairs, because when new hairs start to grow after the old hair has been pulled out, the new hairs may not find their way to the surface.

Laser hair removal is a simple, long-term solution to the problem of ingrown hairs, because laser hair removal destroys many hair follicles, and the few follicles which remain are miniaturized to the point where the hair is finer and lighter and much less likely to cause trouble. Usually within six to twelve months of starting a series of laser hair removal treatments the amount and coarseness of the hair has declined, the ingrown hairs are much less of a problem, and the old ingrowns have healed up and faded away. Click here to read about Frequently Asked Questions about laser hair removal.


About the author:
Dr. Kevin Smith is a dermatologist in Niagara Falls, Ontario with a particular interest in protecting the skin and in correcting skin problems resulting from aging, rosacea and sun damage. He is an expert in the use of Botox®, fillers, lasers and intense pulsed light to maintain and enhance the appearance of the skin, and have lectured on those subjects across North America, and in Europe, Asia and Mexico. Read more at www.smithlaser.com


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