Ingrown hair

An ingrown hair occurs when a shaved or tweezed hair grows back into the skin, causing inflammation and irritation. Ingrown hairs are most common among black males ages 14 to 25. But an ingrown hair can affect anyone with tightly coiled hair who shaves, tweezes, waxes or uses electrolysis to remove hair.

The result of ingrown hairs is localized pain and the appearance of bumps in the hair removal area. The bumps can be embarrassing.

Not removing hair is one way to avoid an ingrown hair. When that isn't an option, you can use hair removal methods that lessen the risk of developing ingrown hairs.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications Prevention

Ingrown hairs most commonly appear in males in the beard area, including the chin and cheeks and, especially, the neck. They can appear on the scalp in males who shave their heads. In females, the most common areas for ingrown hairs are the armpits, pubic area and legs. Signs and symptoms include:

  • Small, solid, rounded bumps (papules)
  • Small, pus-filled, blister-like lesions (pustules)
  • Skin darkening (hyperpigmentation)
  • Pain
  • Itching
  • Embedded hairs

When to see a doctor

An occasional ingrown hair isn't cause for alarm. See your doctor if:

  • Ingrown hairs are a chronic condition. Your doctor can help you manage the condition.
  • You're a woman with ingrown hairs as a result of excessive unwanted hair growth (hirsutism). Your doctor can determine whether your excess hair is a result of treatable hormonal abnormalities, such as polycystic ovary syndrome.

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