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Hair growing sideways under skin: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments, and Infections

Causes, Symptoms, Treatments, and Infections

Written by Stephanie Watson

  • What Is an Ingrown Hair?
  • Ingrown Hair Symptoms
  • Common Areas for Ingrown Hairs
  • Ingrown Hair Causes
  • Ingrown Hair Complications
  • Ingrown Hair Treatment
  • Ingrown Hair Prevention
  • More

An ingrown hair is one that’s grown back into your skin instead of rising up from it.

Sometimes, dead skin can clog a hair follicle. That forces the hair to grow sideways under your skin, rather than up and out. Or if you cut naturally curly hair too short, the sharpened end of the hair can pierce your skin, causing an ingrown hair.

An ingrown hair irritates your skin. You might notice:

  • A raised red bump (or group of bumps) that’s like a little pimple
  • A boil-like sore
  • Itching
  • Discomfort

You may have pus inside the bumps. Or you may see the hair under the skin that’s causing the problem.

Ingrown hairs often pop up in areas where you shave, including your:

  • Face and neck
  • Scalp
  • Legs
  • Armpits
  • Chest
  • Back
  • Pubic area

Anyone can get an ingrown hair. But the problem is more common in people who have very curly or coarse hair. Curly hair is more likely to bend back and re-enter your skin, especially after it’s been shaved or cut.

People with high levels of certain sex hormones can have more hair than usual. This can make them more likely to get ingrown hairs, especially after shaving.

Many people who have thick or curly hair get a type of ingrown hair called pseudofolliculitis. More commonly known as “razor bumps,” this group of little bumps is common on the beard area after you’ve shaved, waxed, or tweezed to remove hair. The hair that grows back has a sharper edge, so it can more easily poke back through your skin and get trapped under the surface.

Often, an ingrown hair will go away on its own. But if it doesn’t, you could have:

  • An infection
  • Darkened skin
  • Scarring

Some doctors believe that ingrown hairs also cause pilonidal cysts. These pockets of hair and skin debris usually happen at the base of your tailbone, between your buttocks. They can be swollen and painful. You might need surgery to treat them.

If an ingrown hair is bothering you or gets infected, your doctor can make a small cut with a sterile needle or scalpel to release it. They may also prescribe medicine such as:

  • A steroid that you put on your skin to ease the swelling and irritation
  • Retinoids (Retin-A) to remove dead skin cells and reduce skin pigment changes
  • Antibiotics that you take by mouth or rub onto your skin to treat an infection

To prevent ingrown hairs, try these tips when you shave:

  • Rub your face in a circular motion every day using a wet washcloth or an exfoliating scrub to tease out ingrown hairs.
  • Shave with a sharp single-blade razor.
  • Wet your skin with warm water before shaving, and use a lubricating gel.
  • Shave in the same direction your hair is growing.
  • Use as few strokes of the razor as possible. That lessens the chance of a hair slipping back into your skin.
  • Rinse the blade with water after every stroke.
  • Don’t shave too closely to your skin. Leave a little bit of stubble if you can.
  • If you’re using an electric razor, hold it slightly above the surface of your skin.
  • Apply a cool washcloth to your skin after you shave to soothe your skin.

You can also try other hair removal methods that are less likely to lead to ingrown hairs. Those include creams that dissolve hair and a laser or electric current (electrolysis) to remove the hair follicle for good.

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Ingrown hair: Treatment and prevention

Ingrown hairs can be painful and a nuisance. They typically affect people with thick, curly hair, and can become infected if left untreated. But, how should they be treated and can they be prevented?

Preventing ingrown hairs can often be managed at home, though there are times when a visit to the doctor may be appropriate.

This article explores ways to treat and prevent ingrown hairs, to reduce discomfort for people who experience them.

Share on PinterestIngrown hairs can appear anywhere on the body and may become infected if they are not treated.

An ingrown hair is a hair that has curled back into the skin instead of growing out of the skin’s surface. It is most common in people with thick, coarse, or curly hair types. Medically an ingrown hair is known as “pseudofolliculitis barbae.”

An ingrown hair can occur anywhere on the body. Ingrown hairs commonly occur in areas where the skin is shaved or subject to a lot of friction, including:

  • beard
  • legs
  • underarms
  • chest
  • pubic area

Signs and symptoms of an ingrown hair are:

  • itching skin or irritation surrounding the hair
  • rashes
  • razor burn

The site of the ingrown hair will form into a raised bump on the skin that may begin to look like a pimple. The bump will often turn reddish, become irritated and sensitive, and may fill with pus.

Anything that does not let the hair grow normally can cause ingrown hairs, and it is usually for one of the following reasons:

Improper hair removal

The most common cause of ingrown hairs is an improper shaving technique. Cutting hair very close to the skin creates a very sharp tip on the end of each of the hairs.

Most of these hairs will grow back out without a problem. However, some hairs can curl back on themselves and grow into the skin. When this happens, the body responds to the hair as if it were an intruder, causing inflammation, which is the typical symptom of an ingrown hair.

Shaving is not the only way ingrown hairs occur. Waxing and plucking hairs out also commonly cause ingrown hairs.

Plucked hair grows back through the follicle. As such, it may not make it all the way to the surface of the skin before turning and clogging the follicle.

Clogged follicles

It is also possible for hair follicles to become clogged by:

  • dead skin
  • dirt and debris.

When this happens, the hair in the follicle can become stuck or grow sideways into the skin, causing an ingrown hair. In some cases, the hair can be seen growing under the surface of the skin.


Friction caused by wearing tight clothing for extended periods of time can also cause ingrown hairs.

The friction caused by body movement throughout the day can also rub hairs against the skin continuously. This causes the hairs to turn around and push back into the follicle.

Ingrown hairs are irritating, but most of the time they can easily be treated in the home.

Using a warm washcloth or soft toothbrush

Share on PinterestApplying a warm washcloth to the ingrown hair and rubbing in a circular motion may help to uncurl the hair.

If waiting it out is not an option, there are other methods people may want to try. Hairs that have grown back into the follicle can be gently coaxed out using a warm washcloth and soft toothbrush.

After soaking a washcloth in warm water, apply it to the ingrown hair to warm and relax the pores and follicles. Rubbing the washcloth in a gentle circular motion may help uncurl the hair.

If this does not work, rubbing a very soft toothbrush in a similar motion over the area may help unclog the follicle and release the trapped hair.

Avoiding irritation

The first step to treating an ingrown hair is to stop doing things that may irritate it. People may need to stop shaving, waxing, or plucking the area around the ingrown hair.

Scratching an itchy ingrowing hair should also be avoided. Also, people should wear loose clothing on areas surrounding the hair to avoid friction.

These simple practices are often enough to make the ingrown hairs go away on their own. When a hair grows to about 10 millimeters in length, it will usually release itself from the follicle.

Using tweezers

Once any part of the hair appears above the skin line, a sterile needle or tweezers can be used to pull the hair straight.

Only do this once the hair is above the skin. Digging into the skin to pull the hair out can cause an infection.

It is also important not to pluck the hair out, as this increases the chance that the hair will be ingrown again as it grows back. The inflamed area surrounding the hair needs time to heal completely before removing the hair again.

Use gentle soaps to clean areas around the ingrown hair and prevent infection. Using natural exfoliates around the hair can also help remove dead skin cells. Exfoliating also helps clear the inflamed and irritated skin around the hair.

Sometimes ingrown hairs are irritating to deal with or become a regular problem. When this happens, some people stop removing hair in the problem area altogether.

Individuals who get ingrown hairs on their necks from shaving may switch to trimming instead. Problematic pubic hairs can be cut short instead of removed entirely to help prevent ingrown hairs. There are also a few products and treatments available to prevent these ingrown hairs.

However, if the problem is persistent, people should see their doctor for other preventive measures. These methods can include intense pulse light therapy or prescription creams to reduce hair growth. Such preventive measure can help decrease the risk of deeper infections and scarring.

Over the counter products

Share on PinterestDiluted tea tree oil may help to kill the bacteria and bring down the swelling of an ingrown hair.

There are also some over the counter products that may help stop or treat ingrown hairs.

Using creams with salicylic acid can help open the pores and follicles, preventing them from clogging.

Some reports note that diluted tea tree essential oil may help ingrowing hairs by:

  • killing bacteria
  • reducing redness
  • bringing down swelling

Natural exfoliation

Some people regularly use homemade exfoliators to reduce ingrown hairs. Certain ingredients can be scrubbed into the skin to reduce dead skin cells. These products include:

  • sugar
  • coffee
  • salt
  • baking soda

Preparing for hair removal

Properly preparing for hair removal can also help prevent ingrown hairs. Before shaving, wash the area thoroughly with a gentle soap. Use a moisturizing shaving cream or gel to reduce friction.

When shaving, use a fresh razor that will make precise cuts. Dull blades leave jagged cuts that may increase the risk of ingrown hairs. Avoiding a close shave can also be helpful.

Alternative hair removal options

Some people turn to other ways of removing hair to avoid the risks of ingrown hairs that come with shaving, waxing, or plucking. These include:

  • Laser hair removal: This can be an expensive process, but the results are usually semi-permanent hair loss and no ingrown hairs. Laser hair removal damages the hair follicle at a deep level, preventing hair from growing at all.
  • Chemical hair removal: These products are also an option for some.
  • Electrolysis: This is another more permanent form of hair removal. It is designed to destroy the root of the hair and requires several sessions.

Any of these methods may irritate the skin and should be and discussed with a dermatologist before use.

In most cases, ingrown hairs are treated at home and do not require medical attention. There are a few times when a doctor may need to be involved.

If the ingrown hair becomes infected, the bumps may continue to grow and fill with more pus. They may be more painful, red, and irritated than ever before. People who experience ingrown hair over large areas may require medical treatment as well.

If an ingrown hair becomes infected, the person may need to visit the doctor for treatment. A doctor may prescribe antibiotic ointments, steroid creams, or medicated washes to use on the area. In severe cases, a doctor may refer a person to a skin specialist.

Use topical treatments on the affected area only, as they can cause dry skin and other side effects. For severe infections, a doctor may prescribe oral antibiotics.

Sometimes an ingrown hair is not infected, but it is very persistent. In cases like these, doctors may prescribe retinoids. Retinoids can help remove dead skin cells more quickly than just washing and exfoliating. Retinoids are not for everyone. Every medical treatment option should be discussed with a doctor or dermatologist before use.

How to get rid of ingrown hairs, tips and tricks – Epil Salon

How to get rid of ingrown hairs, tips and tricks – Epil Salon

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Beauty is, first of all, shiny hair, healthy complexion and smooth clear skin. But it is the last component that causes problems for most girls, because this is hard to achieve. Most often, excess hair is removed by shaving. Some people prefer to do waxing at home. From a medical point of view, both methods are far from the safest, since they cause unpleasant consequences: irritation and ingrown hairs.

Why is this happening?

Hair develops in the follicle and breaks out from under the skin. Ingrown hairs, as their name suggests, grow sideways under the skin or curl back down and grow into it. The following factors can prevent normal hair growth:

  • rapid renewal of epithelial tissue;
  • follicle clogged with dead skin cells;
  • presence of infection in it;
  • curly and thick hair on the body area;
  • wearing tight clothing;
  • incorrect hair removal.

Armpit and leg hair prone to ingrown hairs. But it is the pubic area that suffers most from this problem after shaving and bikini waxing at home, since the hair in this area is coarse.

An ingrown hair may look like a small pimple that grows into a large blemish on the body if it becomes infected. In addition, all this can be accompanied by unpleasant sensations – itching and pain.

How to get rid of ingrown hairs

It is better to stay away from using needles and tweezers. They leave wounds on the skin that take a long time to heal. It is more effective to regularly follow the recommendations below:

Advice 1. Before epilating, exfoliate the skin with a hard washcloth or scrub to get rid of dead cells. In this way it is convenient to treat large areas of skin (legs, arms, armpits). To prevent ingrown in sensitive areas of the bikini, it is advisable to use enzyme peels that exclude rough mechanical friction. They should be done the day before a shave or bikini wax is scheduled.

Tip 2. After hair removal, use products that soothe the skin, soften it and slow down hair growth.

Tip 3. Follow the correct hair removal technique. It is in the competent observance of the epilation technique that 70% of success in the fight against ingrown hairs lies. It’s hard to follow it on your own. Therefore, it makes sense to turn to a master who has a technique that has been developed over the years. He knows how to do waxing and how to take care of the client’s skin at home in the future.

Epilation in “Epil Salon” – smoothly and safely!

Find your own comfortable and convenient way to get rid of body hair. And if you want to try to do professional hair removal and compare the result with self-removal, then we will be glad to see you in our salon. Note that even the most painful methods of getting rid of hair are performed by our masters very carefully.

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your name
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CALL US: +7 (495) 764-0050 +7 (968) 545-7000 +7 (985) 764-0050

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Skin with hyperkeratosis or goose bumps – how to care

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It is not uncommon for epilators to encounter a problem when clients with hyperkeratosis arrive. It is difficult to work with such skin, the hair is removed worse, multiple ingrown hairs become a big problem.

Let’s see why hyperkeratosis occurs, and how to care for such skin.

Hyperkeratosis is a pathological process of the skin, which is characterized by damage to the mouths of the hair follicles and the formation of keratolytic plugs.

As a result, the stratum corneum of the dermis thickens and acquires an unaesthetic appearance. In the people, hyperkeratosis is called “goose bumps”.

The hair follicle is the “bulb” that contains the hair root. Nearby are the mouths of the sebaceous and sweat glands.

With hyperkeratosis, dead cells of the epidermis accumulate on the surface in excess and clog the mouths of the hair follicles.

Through such a dense skin, it is difficult for a growing hair to break through. As a result, the hair changes direction of growth and may grow down or sideways. In medicine, this condition is called an ingrown hair.

Affected follicles become inflamed, redden, and the skin is covered with small bright red spike-like nodules, dry and rough to the touch. More often, the skin on the face, thighs, forearms or directly in the depilation zone (in the armpits, bikini or lower legs) suffers.

All causes of skin lesions can be divided into 2 groups:


  • wearing clothes with coarse seams;
  • regular hair removal;
  • exposure to chemicals.


  • presence of other dermatological diseases – ichthyosis, psoriasis;
  • circulatory disorders in the extremities – varicose veins, obliterating atherosclerosis;
  • deficiency of fat-soluble vitamins A, D and E.

An important role in the occurrence of pathology is played by heredity.

In a person who does not have a predisposition to hyperkeratosis, exposure to the above factors will not lead to a dermatological problem.

In prone persons, even a slight disturbance of microcirculation and innervation of the dermis activates the processes of cell division of the stratum corneum, leading to an increase in epidermis desquamation and thickening of the skin.

How to care for skin with hyperkeratosis

Skin prone to hyperkeratosis requires special care. It is recommended to apply creams for a long time and daily.

During an exacerbation, hormonal ointments are used. They help to stop the inflammatory process by blocking the action of the main inflammatory mediators – bradykinin, histamine, prostaglandin and others.

Hormonal agents also additionally soften the skin and contribute to the exfoliation of the horny scales of the epidermis.

Creams or ointments containing AHAs and BHAs may be used.

They have a softening and moisturizing effect, and even out the texture of the skin. Unlike hormonal ointments, they need to be used constantly.

Most often, creams with glycolic acid are prescribed. They reduce cohesion between corneocytes and promote deep cleansing of the skin.

The use of glycolic acid is not recommended during the warm season, such as spring or summer.

It increases the photosensitivity of the dermis and increases the risk of hyperpigmentation. In a hot period, it is better to purchase creams with lactic or mandelic acid.

Salicylic acid also has a good effect. Possessing a powerful keratolytic effect, it exfoliates dead epidermal cells and returns the skin to a smooth, shiny appearance.

Experienced dermatologists recommend adding fat-soluble vitamins A, D and E to problem skin care.

The lack of these substances in the body often leads to diseases of the dermis. They do not have a “peeling effect”, unlike acids, but allow dermatocytes to divide more actively and quickly replace the upper layer of the epidermis.

This prevents the accumulation of dead scales, and the aesthetic problem disappears. In addition, vitamins A and E additionally moisturize the skin and mucous membranes.

In the treatment of hyperkeratosis, the appointment of drugs with urea is justified.

Since the main cause of the disease is excessive loss of skin moisture, urea can solve this problem.

It is an excellent moisturizer and keratolytic at the same time, depending on the concentration of the substance: 10% urea saturates the skin with moisture, and 20% exfoliates epidermal cells.

With regular use of urea preparations, a long-term remission of the disease can be achieved.

Lymphatic drainage massage, moderate exposure to ultraviolet radiation and the use of warm salt baths have a good effect.

Article prepared by:

Author: Irina Zaichenko, therapist
Published by: Olesya Smagina, Assistant Director of Beauty Universe Hair Removal Centers


1. Dermatovenereology. National leadership. Ed. Yu.K.