Ingrown hairs are hairs that do not grow properly, but do so under the skin often causing discomfort, irritation and inflammation in the affected area. These frequently occur after shaving or hair removal of some areas of the body and although most of the time they do not generate major complications, it may be the case that this cystic hair becomes infected due to the colonization of bacteria that are present on the surface of the skin and, consequently, a red, highly inflamed pimple or lump appears, even filled with pus. In the following article, we explain in detail what to do in this situation and how to cure an infected ingrown hair correctly to avoid further complications. Pay attention!
Causes and symptoms of ingrown hairs
Ingrown hairs are hairs that do not grow outward, but grow under the skin sideways because the hair follicles are obstructed by dead skin cells.
Among the main causes of cystic hairs are hair removal, therefore, they usually appear in the areas of the body that we shave or shave. In the case of men, they are more frequent in the area of the beard and testicles and, in the case of women, in the legs, armpits, abdomen and pubis. Some of the factors that can favor the hairs to become incarnate are the following:
- A hair that is very curly, since this type of hair favors that the hair enters the skin again after being cut and begins to grow again.
- Shave the hair dry.
- Stretching and tightening the skin during shaving, which can cause hair to retract into the skin and re-enter the skin without first growing outward.
- Hair removal with tweezers.
Both electric epilators and blades favor the formation of cystic hairs, the best method of hair removal to prevent them is wax. When a hair incarnates, the body detects it as if it were a foreign body and, before this, an inflammation is generated around it, which can also cause pain, redness, small lumps and infection.
The main symptoms of ingrown hairs are as follows:
- Small, firm, round bumps or papules.
- Pustules or small skin lesions with pus very similar to blisters.
- Darkened skin.
- Hair or hairs trapped under the skin.
Infected ingrown hair: symptoms
One of the most frequent complications of ingrown hairs is that a bacterial infection occurs and the hair follicle is usually infected by staph bacteria, which usually enter the subcutaneous tissue through small wounds in the area, either by scratching, cuts or small breaks in the skin. When this occurs, in order to fight the infection, neutrophils (the most common type of white blood cells) travel to the area and inflammation and the formation of a pocket of pus under the skin, called a boil, is generated.
The main symptoms of a boil and that can indicate that an ingrown hair is infected are those listed below:
- Appearance of a subcutaneous, red and painful bump that increases in size with the passage of days as it fills with pus and dead cells. Finally, a white or yellowish dot will appear in the center of the bump.
- Pain and discomfort in and around the boil area.
Normally, when all the pus is drained outward, the pain and discomfort disappear and this skin lesion heals without leaving scars in the area, except for those boils that are of a considerable size and have a great depth.
How to remove an infected ingrown hair
In many cases, ingrown hairs do not require specific treatment and end up coming out on their own. Now, when we show signs of infection and ingrown hair is deep, it is important to go to the doctor and not treat the problem at home or self-medicate.
The medical treatment to cure an infected cystic hair will depend in each case on the degree of infection and the symptoms that the patient presents, but it can usually consist of the following:
- Apply wet compresses with warm water for 10 or 20 minutes about three times a day to reduce inflammation and facilitate the drainage of pus and the healing of ingrown hair.
- Antibioticmedications: In cases of mild infection, the doctor will prescribe the application of a lotion containing an anidotic to fight against the bacteria responsible for the infection. Only in those cases of severe infection, oral antibiotics will be prescribed.
- Creams to reduce skin inflammation: Steroid creams can be helpful in decreasing swelling and itching of the affected area.
- Minor surgery: in those cases, in which the boil does not drain spontaneously after a few days, a small incision can be made in the area to drain all the accumulated pus, remove the deep ingrown hair and accelerate its healing.
In addition to the above, it is important to take into account some care and measures such as the following:
- Keep the ingrown hair area clean and dry. Cleaning should be done with neutral soap and warm water.
- Do not squeeze or burst the bump.
- Do not apply topical medications or lotions on behalf of others.
- Wash your hands thoroughly before and after touching the affected area.
In the following article, you can find more information on how to treat a boil.
Home Remedies for Ingrown Hairs
There are some natural remedies that can be of great help in the process of curing an infected ingrown hair, above all, to reduce pain and discomfort in the affected area. However, these should not replace medical treatment in any case.
Chamomile has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that can help heal an infected ingrown hair more quickly.
- Prepare an infusion of chamomile.
- When it is warm, soak gauze in it.
- Place the gauze on the skin lesion, letting it sit for 10 minutes.
Oatmeal can be used to make baths that provide great relief, heal the skin, repair and reduce inflammation effectively, as it is a cereal with soothing, anti-inflammatory and moisturizing properties.
- In a pot, boil about 500 grams of oatmeal for about 5 minutes.
- After that time, remove from the heat and beat the mixture.
- Add the mixture to the warm bath water.
- Take a relaxing bath for about 20 minutes, submerging the area affected by cystic hair.
Tea tree oil
This oil is a good antibiotic and natural antiseptic, being excellent to fight bacterial infection and relieve the discomfort that an infected ingrown hair can cause.
- Dilute about 4 drops of tea tree oil in 1/2 cup of water.
- Apply the resulting liquid to the damaged area.
- Wait for the oil to dry on its own.
You can see more natural treatments like these by consulting the article Home Remedies for Boils.