Is ingrown hair stopping you from flaunting your flawless skin? Hasty hair removal methods can not only cause ingrown hair, but also lead to infection if not treated properly. After all, painful red sores are not what you want after a shaving or waxing session.
Thus, to prevent the nuisance of ingrown hair, the ancient science of Ayurveda encourages herbal exfoliation with antiseptic, skin healing herbs. These prevent your hair from getting trapped, keep your skin moisturized and prevent unwanted skin irritations and infections. Read on to know what causes ingrown hair and the best natural remedies to remove them.
Our Ayurvedic Doctor Says
“For ingrown hair cysts, apply oats powder mask and dab the area with a cloth dipped in hot water with salt.”
Dr. Mamtha Tandle, Ayurvedic Doctor, Vedix
- What Is The Meaning Of Ingrown Hair?
- Causes And Symptoms Of Ingrown Hair
- How To Get Rid Of Ingrown Hair?
- Complications And Risk Factors Of Ingrown Hair
- Prevention Steps For Ingrown Hair
- Do’s And Don'ts Of Ingrown Hair
- When To Consult A Doctor About Ingrown Hair?
- Frequently Asked Questions On Ingrown Hair
What Is The Meaning Of Ingrown Hair?
Your skin has small pockets called hair follicles within which lies the hair root. Cells at the base of this root multiply for the hair to grow upward through the skin. Ingrown hair  occurs when the hair shaft instead of rising out of the skin, grows sideways or coils back into it. This shaft of hair embedded in the superficial skin has the appearance of a small red eruption with a black line in the centre. Ingrown hair can be itchy and may cause discomfort and pain if infected.
1. What Are The Common Areas Of Ingrown Hair?
Ingrown hair usually occurs in body parts that are shaved or trimmed. Such parts include the legs, arms, armpits, face, stomach, pubic areas and scalp.
2. How Do Ingrown Hair Appear On Your Body?
Ingrown hair may appear if the normal pathway of the hair is obstructed. This can happen if the hair follicle is clogged. In case of coarse hair, the tip of the hair may pierce through the skin and grow sideways into it instead of rising up from the follicle.
Ingrown hair on the face is more common in men who shave or trim too close to the skin. Shaving your head can result in ingrown hair on the scalp. As for ingrown hair in the armpits, arms, legs and bikini areas, improper waxing, shaving or epilating techniques are often to be blamed.
Unlike popular belief, shaving does not cause ingrown hair, if done right. However, using a blunt blade, shaving opposite to the grain or shaving without a shaving gel increases the risk of ingrown hair.
Causes And Symptoms Of Ingrown Hair
Ingrown hair is more common in people with curly hair. This is because the hair may have a natural tendency to bend and get trapped under the skin. The main causes of ingrown hair are listed below:
1. Improper Hair Removal Techniques
Shaving with a blunt blade or in the opposite direction of hair growth can lead to ingrown hair. This is because a blunt blade cannot render a clean cut and often leaves the tip of your hair sharp and uneven. This jagged end may pierce your skin as the hair begins to grow back, leading to ingrown hair. In the case of reverse shaving, you tend to pull the hair against its natural direction of growth thus increasing chances of ingrown hair.
Waxing and epilating, though considered safer techniques of hair removal, must be done by a professional. Improper methods may break the hair mid-way rather than pulling it clean off its roots. If not correctly executed, waxing and epilation may also damage the hair follicle, which guides the hair to grow out of the skin.
2. Dead Skin
One of the biggest risk factors of ingrown hair is dead skin. The hair may grow back into the skin if the hair follicle is clogged with dead skin and debris. This is why you often notice a layer of skin covering your ingrown hair. A clogged hair follicle also increases the risk of infection or folliculitis.
3. Tight Clothing
Constant friction from tight outfits in places of hair growth such as the chest and pubic areas can result in ingrown hair. Tight clothing may interfere with your natural hair growth, preventing the hair from reaching the skin’s surface and trapping it underneath.
4. Hormone Fluctuations
People with hormonal imbalances may experience an increase in hair growth or a change of hair texture in certain parts of the body. In such cases, hair removal may further the risk of ingrown hair.
The symptoms of ingrown hair  are as follows:
1. Tiny red bumps on the skin that look like boils
3. Itchy skin
4. Pus filled bumps in case of infection
Vedix Tip: Regular Abhyanga (Ayurvedic massage) with dosha balancing herbs and oils is a great way to keep ingrown hair at bay.
How To Get Rid Of Ingrown Hair?
A. Natural Methods
1. Green Tea Compress
Brew green tea, strain and apply a 10 to 15 minutes warm compress to ease the inflammation. Green tea compresses are effective against infected ingrown hair lumps in the armpit and other places. It also helps loosen the plug sealing the hair follicle and makes it easy to remove the trapped hair.
2. Exfoliate Away Dead Skin
Use a herbal scrub to gently exfoliate the ingrown hair on your legs, arms and face. This helps to slough off dead skin covering the follicles and free the ingrown hair underneath. If the ingrown hair is not infected and growing on the surface, you may use a sterilized tweezer to safely extract it after exfoliation.
3. Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe vera gel’s soothing nature relieves itch and skin irritations that accompany ingrown hair. It is also antibacterial and can help with infected ingrown hair cysts. Aloe vera suits all skin types and can be safely applied on the affected areas for long hours.
4. Tea Tree Oil
The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory tea tree oil is a common natural remedy for ingrown hair. Apply the oil and leave it on for half an hour before washing off. Repeat till the condition improves.
“For ingrown hair cysts apply oats powder mask and dab the area with a cloth dipped in hot water with salt,” says Dr. Mamtha Tandle, Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix.
B. Essential Oils For Ingrown Hair
1. Lavender Oil
Lavender oil is a great remedy for ingrown hair on the face as it fights infection, inflammation, moisturises the affected area and ensures easy removal of the trapped hair. Mix it with any carrier oil of your choice and massage. Wash off after 20 to 30 minutes.
2. Turmeric Oil
Curcumin in turmeric oil battles inflammation and prevents ingrown hair from getting infected. It also does not allow the area to scar after the hair has been extracted. Apply with a carrier oil and wash off after half an hour.
3. English Or German Chamomile Oil
The presence of chamazulene , an anti-inflammatory compound, makes both varieties of chamomile oil perfect for treating skin problems. Chamomile soothes the skin, prevents infection and skin irritation from ingrown hair boils. Massage for 30 minutes and wash off.
4. Geranium Oil
The antiseptic and antibacterial properties of this essential oil helps to heal infected ingrown hair cysts. Mix with a carrier oil and apply for half an hour and wash off.
5. Lemongrass Oil
Widely used to treat various skin ailments, lemongrass oil unclogs your follicles making it easy to remove ingrown hair on the legs, arms and other areas. Gently massage with a carrier oil and leave it on for 30 minutes before washing off.
While mixing your essential oils, add one drop of essential oil to a teaspoon of carrier oil. This gives you 1 percent dilution. You can increase the concentration as per your needs.
C. Ayurvedic And Home Remedies
1. Oatmeal And Curd Exfoliation
While oatmeal reduces skin inflammation and irritation, curd helps moisturize dry skin and remove dead skin cells. Exfoliating your legs, arms and other affected areas with oatmeal and curd, ensures safe removal of stubborn ingrown hair.
How To Use
Grind oatmeal into a coarse powder and add curd to it. Exfoliate gently and leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes before washing off.
2. Orange Peel, Almond And Coconut Oil/ Olive Oil
Orange peel and grounded almonds are excellent skin detoxifiers. Adding coconut or olive oil to it softens the dead skin covering your ingrown hair and makes for easy removal. This skin clarifying pack also prevents scarring and hyperpigmentation after extracting the ingrown hair.
How To Use
Grind orange peel and almonds into a coarse powder and add coconut or olive oil to it. Exfoliate the area with ingrown hair and leave on for 30 minutes before washing off with lukewarm water.
3. Yashtimadhu, Triphala, Turmeric And Honey Ubtan
Ubtans or herbal exfoliation help remove ingrown hair and rejuvenate your skin at the same time. Each of these herbs are known for their antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and skin healing properties.
They also help prevent chances of hyperpigmentation from ingrown hair cysts. Apart from fighting ingrown hair infections, honey keeps your skin moisturized and softens the ingrown hair for quick removal.
How To Use
Mix the above herbs and add a few spoons of honey to the mixture. Massage on the affected area with gentle upward strokes to remove the ingrown hair. Wash off after half an hour.
4. Neem And Tulsi Paste
Neem and tulsi help fight ingrown hair infections.
How To Use
Grind 15 to 20 neem and tulsi leaves together. You can add coconut oil or ghee to prepare the paste. Apply on the ingrown hair cyst and leave it on for 30 minutes to 1 hour before washing off.
5. Ginger, Brahmi And Bakuchi
Wet ginger displays amazing anti-inflammatory properties that help heal ingrown hair boils. Brahmi adds moisture to the skin and softens ingrown hair that have turned into hard lumps under the skin. Bakuchi reduces itching, calms your skin and prevents scar formations.
How To Use
Make a paste with the above ingredients by adding honey to it. Apply on the ingrown hair bumps and wash off after half an hour.
“Swasta urjaskara chikitsa (finding out the cause and avoiding it) is conducted for treating ingrown hair cysts. Vrana ropana tailam, Jatyadi tailam, Doshagna lepam are applied on the affected areas. Tablets like Arogya vardhini vati, Kaishore guggulu are also prescribed. To cure ingrown hair cysts in an acute stage, wash the area with Triphala kashayam and Panchavalkala kashayam,” adds Dr. Mamtha.
D. Other Medical Treatments
A type of Vitamin A, retinoid creams are prescribed to remove ingrown hair from legs, arms and other less sensitive areas. For ingrown hair cysts in pubic areas, it is advised to consult your doctor to decide the right concentration as per your needs and skin type.
Retinoids increase your cell turnover rate thereby helping your skin to shed the upper damaged layers. This helps bring to surface ingrown hair that is embedded deep within your skin.
2. Salicylic Or Glycolic Acid
Topical application of salicylic and glycolic acids remove dead skin cells and dissolve the plug clogging your hair follicles. Face washes with 1 to 2% salicylic acid is generally considered safe for removing ingrown hair on the face.
3. Antibacterial Ointments
For ingrown hair infections, your doctor may prescribe antibacterial creams and ointments.
Complications And Risk Factors Of Ingrown Hair
- Staph bacteria infections
- Pseudofolliculitis barbae or razor bumps
- Hair follicle damage
Prevention Steps For Ingrown Hair
- Avoid improper hair removal procedures. Using a single blade razor and shaving in the direction of hair growth  minimizes the occurrence of ingrown hair.
- Change your razor blade frequently to prevent ingrown hair.
- Use lukewarm water and a shaving cream that softens your hair before shaving. Shave a little above the surface of your face.
- Avoid wearing tight clothes that constantly rub against your skin. Soft fabrics are also preferable if you are prone to ingrown hair.
- Exfoliate your skin to avoid clogging of hair follicles.
Do’s And Don'ts Of Ingrown Hair
1. Gently exfoliate the area of ingrown hair with herbal scrubs.
2. Apply a warm compress on the ingrown hair boils.
3. Use sterilized tweezers to remove ingrown hair.
4. Use skin calming ointments or aloe vera gel to reduce skin irritation.
5. Consult a doctor if the ingrown hair cysts are infected.
1. Don’t scratch the area or try to take out ingrown hair that is deep inside the skin.
2. Gently free the hair and don’t try to forcefully extract it.
3. Don’t shave the area till the skin heals.
When To Consult A Doctor About Ingrown Hair?
Ingrown hair goes away on its own or can be removed with simple herbal and home remedies. However, if the cysts are infected, filled with pus and constantly causing discomfort, you should consult a doctor to check for other underlying conditions.
Frequently Asked Questions On Ingrown Hair
1. Does Ingrown Hair Go Away On Its Own?
Ingrown hair caused by shaving or waxing often goes away on its own. Simple exfoliation of the area using herbal ingredients usually brings them to the surface.
2. Should You Remove Ingrown Hair?
Pulling out ingrown hair is risky. Using sharp objects can lead to infection, inflammation and scarring. If the hair emerges to the surface after exfoliation, you may use a sterilized tweezer. However, skin specialists advice against completely pulling out the hair as it may damage the hair follicle and make the hair grow inward again.
The Last Word
Ingrown hair is not a serious skin problem but it can cause a certain amount of discomfort. Safe hair removal methods and good skin hygiene goes a long way in preventing these unsightly red bumps on your skin. Visit your Ayurvedic doctor to know your Prakriti (body constitution) which will further help you understand the cause behind your ingrown hair and how to best avoid its occurrence.Know Your Dosha Now
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