Ingrown Hair Cyst – Causes, Therapy Treatment & Home Remedies
Isn’t it absolutely annoying to wake up one morning and find an unusually large bump on your skin popping out of nowhere? Chances are good that this bump can be an infected ingrown hair, taking the form of a cyst. Usually occurring on the private body parts that are more prone to the effects of shaving, it’s quite common for ingrown hair cyst to occur on exposed parts like neck and armpit. This article is especially intended to give a deep insight into the causes and treatment of ingrown hair cyst.
Since it’s quite a commonly encountered problem, it’s best to know the pathophysiology so effective treatment can be implemented immediately.
What is an Ingrown Hair Cyst?
In normal physiology, the hair follicle situated in the dermal layer of the skin sprouts a tiny hair strand that grows outward and pierces the epidermis vertically to make its way to the exterior. However, in some cases, when this hair strand grows backward or laterally into the skin, it is termed as an ingrown hair.
The ingrown hair presents as a bump under the skin which may get infected to give rise to an ingrown hair cyst. Hence a cyst is an epithelium-lined sac that is filled with pus and an ingrown hair.
How does an Ingrown Hair Cyst Presents?
It’s quite common for people to confuse an ingrown hair cyst with a skin infection. However, the diagnosis is very simple as an ingrown hair cyst would present with the following five major symptoms. Once the diagnosis is made, imperative therapy should be commenced right away.
A skin bump is often the first noticeable sign of an ingrown hair cyst. It enlarges with time, indicating the fact that the entrapped hair is growing beneath the skin.
Ingrown hair cysts are invaded by bacteria which stimulate an inflammatory reaction. Inflammatory mediators like histamine from mast cells can lead to severe pruritus and itching.
Cysts usually discharge a thick, yellowish material called pus. This is indicative of an ongoing infection and the resultant immune response.
The skin surrounding the cyst would be red and inflamed. This is due to dilatation of local blood vessels which are under the influence of inflammatory substances.
Every inflammatory process presents with pain. A cyst is usually tender and painful to touch as opposed to other skin infections.
What causes the development of a Cyst?
Coarse and curly hairs are the biggest contributing factor for ingrown hair, thus making cyst formation common phenomena. Curly hairs have a natural tendency to grow backward under the skin rather than straightening out.
Sharp razors often entrap the end of hair strands and prevent their growth out of the skin. This entrapped hair can curl backward and predispose to cyst formation.
Tweezers serve the same function as shaving with razors. Once a hair strand is plucked out, its root may stay within the skin and attract bacterial overgrowth leading to the formation of a cyst.
Individuals who are prone to acne can also develop cystic acne. Cystic acne is another skin condition where an entrapped hair follicle accumulates pus and leads to a large skin bump.
Poor Skin Hygiene:
A poor skin care regime can lead to ingrown hair cyst. Skin that is not taken care of develops excess sebum and dirt which attracts bacterial colonization and an ultimate infection.
Which body parts are affected by Ingrown Hair Cysts?
Ingrown hair cysts have a predilection for certain body parts.
Since the skin around the armpits is really sensitive, regular shaving with razors or tweezers can predispose the area to the development of ingrown hair cyst. Constant sweating also irritates the skin thus affecting its protective barrier mechanism.
Women who shave their legs more often are likely to develop ingrown hairs and infected cysts. This can be avoided by substituting shaving with waxing.
Private parts have sensitive skin and an increased number of sweat and sebaceous glands. Also, the crowding of hair follicles in this area increases the likelihood of ingrown hairs while shaving. An ingrown hair easily converts to a cyst when conditions are not hygienic.
Facial skin is more affected by ingrown hair cysts in the male population. Regular beard shaving is proven to be the culprit of this menace.
Though uncommon, ingrown hair cysts can also develop on the scalp as a result of shaving or violent brushing techniques
Is it okay to touch an Ingrown Hair Cyst?
Cyst development is an indication of an ongoing infection. Touching it with your fingers would just exacerbate the inflammatory process, resulting in more swelling and redness. Popping the cyst or tweezing out the entrapped hair follicle is absolutely contraindicated due to the risk of superadded infection, bruising and even bleeding.
The best approach in this scenario would be to wait for the infection to subside before any action is taken. Seeking professional opinion would be the best bet in this case.
Home remedies :
Many home remedies can be adopted to get rid of the debilitating symptoms instantly.
Sugar is a natural defoliator that possesses healing properties. Make a homemade scrub by mixing equal ratio of sugar in lukewarm water. Apply the granular scrub on the affected area and massage gently until you notice the swelling fading away.
With some amazing antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, honey is the number one remedy to get rid of any infection. Apply pure honey over the cyst and wash off with lukewarm water after a few minutes. This process can be repeated several times per day until the results are noticeable. Make sure to avoid contact with the honey covered skin with any cloth or fabric.
The alkaline nature of baking soda helps relieve itching, redness, and swelling. It also halts the spread of inflammation and treats pain. Soak a cotton swab in a mixture of water and baking soda. Rub the cotton over the affected area to soothe the skin and bring out the ingrown hair from within the cyst.
Lemongrass essential oil is a natural skin cleansing agent. Add a few drops of this essential oil in a pot of boiling water. Soak a towel in this mixture and cover the affected area with it. The steam containing lemongrass essence would get absorbed into the skin, relieving pain and redness.
Loaded with anti-oxidants and vitamins, Aloe Vera prevents dehydration and keeps the skin moist and supple. Application of gel directly over the affected area would loosen the surrounding skin and help in the extraction of the ingrown hair. This would automatically heal the cyst and cure the swelling.
Olive oil is a highly recommended remedy for ingrown hair cysts. It has antioxidants that heal skin damage and retain the moisture. Mix equal quantities of olive oil with brown sugar and massage the mixture onto the affected area to heal ingrown hair cysts.
Constituting about ninety percent water, cucumber help soothes irritated skin and is packed with nutrients. Cut thin slices of cucumber and place them over the affected area for twenty minutes. Wash with lukewarm water and pat dry. This process can be repeated several times a day until the swelling disappears.
Oatmeal is a gentle exfoliator that strips away dead skin cells and also relieves itching. An oatmeal bath is an excellent way to get rid of ingrown hair cysts.
This herb is known for its medicinal properties and has been used in herbal medicine for centuries. Grind a bundle of mint leaves and apply them to the affected area. Leave for six hours and wash off with warm water followed by a gentle moisturizer. Not only would this method soothe the inflammation but it would also help cure the infection.
Although lemon juice is rich in anti-bacterial substances, its acidic nature may further irritate the skin. For this reason, lemon juice should be mixed with honey and applied to the affected area to cure infection and inflammation.
Drug Therapy for Ingrown Hair Cyst:
When no home remedy seems to work and provide relief, many over-the-counter medications can help treat the symptoms. Topical antibiotics help resolve the infection, corticosteroids can reduce the swelling while NSAIDs can target the complaint of pain. Acne medications are a good option for individuals who develop cystic acne.
Furthermore, warm compresses assist in unclogging the pores and bringing entrapped hair follicles to the surface of the skin which can then be removed manually. In severe cases, the cyst may become an abscess which must be surgically excised and the pus drained out. Regular use of exfoliators and moisturizers would ensure a smooth shaving process and prevent the growth of cysts in the future.
To prevent further occurrence of such symptoms, shaving can be replaced with epilation, waxing, laser, cryoablation and depilatory creams.