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Ingrown hairs appear as small coloured bumps under the skin. They may be either pink or brown coloured and may occur in clusters in areas where the skin is shaved or removed by waxing or other depilatories.
Consequently they generally occur in the face and neck in men; and the armpits, legs or the bikini area in women.
Ingrown hairs may also occur when hairs break off close to the skin because of friction from tight fitting clothing or when dead skin debris blocks hair follicles causing the hair to grow sideways instead of through the hair follicle.
Generally ingrown hairs occur more often after puberty, when the hairs on the face, armpits and pubic regions thicken and have more difficulty growing up through the hair follicle.
In order to treat an ingrown hair the hair follicle must usually be cleared in order to allow the hair to dislodge and grow straight again, as they do not usually resolve without some treatment.
In most cases, thorough cleansing and gentle exfoliation will help to clear the blockage and allow the lump to subside, but in some instances of long standing ingrown hairs surgical removal may be indicated.
The best treatment is to prevent ingrown hairs occurring in the first place. Hydrating and softening preparations applied to the skin before shaving often prevents the hairs from ingrowing and prevents damage to the skin from the razor blade.
After shaving and using depilatory preparations cleanse the area using gentle circular movements with a warm wet cloth or exfoliant, this also helps to remove any debris that may block hair follicles.
Your community pharmacist can give you advice on treating and preventing ingrown hairs as well as appropriate depilatory preparations to lessen the likelihood of their recurrence.
In severe cases hair follicles may become infected, but your pharmacist can advise if you need to seek treatment from your doctor or if they can solve your ingrown hair problems.
Your community pharmacist is an expert in treating and advising skin conditions, you can trust them to give you advice and solutions to solve your skin problems, or refer you to other treatment if necessary.