How Salicylic Acid Improves Ingrown Hair Bumps

Among commonly-occurring skin problems, ingrown hair bumps have a high incidence among men and women. These bumps are often caused due to wrongful or forceful shaving methods. An ingrown hair bump is also called a razor bump, since a razor is the most widely-used shaving tool. Ingrown hair bumps can be quite painful and unsightly. They aren’t easily resolved with home remedies and need a specific type of application. This can be in the form of salicylic acid-formulated medical aids, and here is how salicylic acid improves ingrown hair bumps:

Prevents Skin Hardening (Keratinization of Skin)

The outermost layer of skin is formed of keratin-infused cells. Keratin is a crucial structural protein found in all humans. However, when excreted in slightly excess quantities, it causes gradual thickening of the skin. This makes the skin scaly/hard. The presence of keratin-hardened skin cells means that the underlying layer of newer skin cells is unable to replace the dead cells along the outermost layer of skin. This induces a pressure on the underlying hair follicles found in the sub-dermal layers of skin. Due to the overlying pressure, there is greater likelihood of the new hair strands taking an unnatural direction, i.e. growing downwards or towards an adjoining hair follicle—this is how ingrown hairs are formed.

Salicylic acid is categorized as a keratolytic—a group of compounds that can dissolve keratin. The most popular forms of salicylic acid are topical preparations that are ideally suited to solve ingrown hair problems. These solutions acts upon the keratin, slowly dissolving it and making it softer and more penetrable for the emerging hair strand to grow through it.

Prevents Clogged Pores

Due to repeated shaving, the outermost layers of skin are repeatedly broken into microscopic bits that can be understood as skin debris. If the skin is not properly moisturized or is flaky, the amount of skin debris can be overwhelming. The shaved surface presents a number of exposed pores, upon which some of this debris gradually settles. Though washing the faces removes such clogging elements, not all of them can be systematically removed with conventional cleaning methods. Thus, the debris begins to clog the skin pores and the hair follicles. While this also leads to formation of acne, it also causes ingrown hair bumps. This is because the clogged pores don’t allow the new, emerging hair strand to develop outwards, directing it towards the hair-root—causing an ingrown hair.

Salicylic acid resolves this problem in two ways. As explained above, it reduces the skin’s dryness (flakiness). Secondly, it has a de-clogging action. This means that it immediately decomposes any debris that might be blocking the skin pores. This is also the reason why salicylic acid is often recommended for treating whiteheads—a form of acne caused by blocked skin pores. Salicylic acid’s formulation also limits the amount oil secreted by the skin’s pores that in turn helps to limit the cementing of skin debris within the hair follicles.

Reduces Inflammation

Salicylic acid is amongst the most commonly-occurring active ingredient in over-the-counter, anti-acne formulations. This is because it contains certain active compounds that are very effective in reducing the inflammation and pain associated with any kind of superficial swelling. This makes salicylic acid a recommended aid for improving the texture of razor bumps, i.e. for reducing the overall inflammation (redness) and camouflaging the presence of an ingrown hair bump.