Ingrown Hair on Face: Symptoms, Causes, Prevention & Treatments

Ingrown Hair on Face

Imagine that you woke up one morning and are heading for a quick splash of water before breakfast when you come across something unfamiliar on your face. Hey, what is that? It doesn’t look like a pimple nor is it a hive. What could it be? The unfamiliar bump on your face could definitely be an ingrown hair on face. Well, don’t be disgusted by the pesky scene right in front of you. Ingrown hair on face is extremely common if you regularly tweeze or shave.

Their occurrence can be attributed to multiple causes that we’ll discuss in detail below. The discussion would then be followed by effective treatment strategies that could be employed to say goodbye to the ingrown hair on face.

ingrown hair on face

What is Ingrown Hair on face?

Set back in your chair and make a mental picture of how a normal hair grows from its follicle. Hair follicle, which is located deep within the dermal layer of the skin, sprouts a tiny hair that grows vertically and pushes the epidermis to grow out of the skin. Sometimes the sharpened end of the hair instead of growing out of the skin, curl around and make its way into the dermal layer again.

This leaves a painful, itchy, red bump on the skin surface. In other instances, hair follicle becomes clogged with dirt and debris which causes the resulting hair to grow in a lateral direction with the sharpened end penetrating the epidermis. This again results in an ingrown hair on face.

Signs and Symptoms:

The first symptom that you’d experience with an ingrown facial hair would be itching. The surrounding skin would ultimately become inflamed, giving a red and swollen appearance to your face. By looking closely at the skin bump, you’d be able to notice a pustule with a hair end enclosed within it. Ingrown facial hairs can easily be diagnosed by laymen and consultation with a physician is not necessary.

In severe cases, the skin bump resulting from an ingrown hair may become infected leading to cyst formation. The infection may spread deeply and affect the hair follicle as well. This is when proper treatment should be started as prescribed by the doctor. Some individuals may experience ingrown hair quite rarely while for others it may be a regular occurrence.

Whatever the case, it’s best to treat the root cause of the condition rather than just implementing symptomatic treatment.

Ingrown Hair on Face vs. Acne The Diagnostic Dilemma:

While ingrown hair results from an altered direction of a hair’s growth potential, acne is a result of pore blockage that causes the buildup of dead skin and oil. However, both acne and ingrown hair present with similar symptoms and diagnosing the condition may become a dilemma. Men who constantly complain of acne might come to realize that their skin issue is that of an ingrown facial hair.

In such an instance, dermatologists take help from skin culture tests. A positive culture indicates a bacterial or fungal infection which ultimately points to acne. A negative culture confirms the diagnosis of ingrown facial hair.


Understanding the Causes of Ingrown Hair on Face:

ingrown hair on faceWhile ingrown facial hair is common among people who shave or tweeze regularly, this problem becomes particularly worse in individuals who possess coarse and curly hair. Ingrown hair is more common in the facial and neck area in male population while females are prone to get them on the armpits and legs. Understanding the causes of an ingrown hair can help a great deal in implementing the right treatment strategy.

  1. Dead Skin Cells:

Presence of dead skin and debris on the surface of the skin acts as a hindrance in the pathway of new hair growth. Since the new hairs are unable to grow out on the skin because of sebum and dirt, they change their path and start growing backward or laterally thus giving rise to ingrown hair.

  1. A Close Shave:

Razor blades tug on the skin surface to give a smooth, clean shave. However, cutting the hair really close to the skin causes their sharpened edge to become trapped in the epidermis. This prevents the normal growth of hairs and they tend to grow inward, resulting in ingrown facial hair.

  1. Constantly Pulling The Skin:

Individuals who stretch the skin while shaving in order to get a clean shave are more prone to develop ingrown hair. That’s because hair strands become entrapped within the skin which hinders their normal growth potential.

  1. Infection:

Many bacterial and fungal infections of the skin can result in ingrown hair. Antibiotic therapy in such cases can treat both the infection and ingrown facial hair.

  1. Chemicals:

Substandard makeup products and other chemical irritants can cause ingrown hair because of their pore-clogging effect.

  1. Dehydration:

A dry and damaged skin has a weak defense barrier which makes it more prone to develop ingrown hair. By restoring the skin’s natural healing mechanism, the problem can be automatically combated.

  1. Testosterone Boost:

Increased concentration of male sex hormones in the blood boosts the production of hair follicles. Such crowding of hair strands can also predispose the skin to ingrown hair bumps.


Preventive Measures for Ingrown Hair on Face:

As the saying goes that prevention is better than cure, it’s imperative to take steps beforehand rather than worry once the painful bumps are visible on your skin. A few lifestyle changes can do wonders in preventing the formation of ingrown facial hairs.

ingrown hair on face

  1. Shaving Techniques:

Modifying your shaving techniques can go a long way to avoid this pesky issue. Application of a lubricating gel or warm water to the skin before shaving would save you the hassle of multiple strokes. Make sure to use a single-blade sharp razor for your beard and shave in the direction of the growth of hair. After shaving, soothe the skin with a gentle cleanser or mild lotion to reduce irritation. Always rinse off the blade with running water after every stroke.

  1. Let Them Grow:

Beards are in fashion these days. By simply giving your shaving regime a break, you can give a chance to all the ingrown hairs to redeem their growth potential. This would not only result in reduced skin bumps but would also prevent the appearance of ingrown hairs in the future.

  1. Proper Skin Care:

Taking care of your skin is important to avoid backward growth of hair. Keep your facial skin free of dirt and sebum. Make moisturizing and exfoliating a routine practice. Regular face washing with lukewarm water strips away the dead skin cells and buildups thus reducing the stimuli for the development of ingrown hair.

  1. Beard Oil:

Application of any clinically tested beard oil after shaving or tweezing can prevent the pores from clogging and avoid ingrown hairs from forming. High-end brands even add tea tree oil and other soothing ingredients in the beard oil to relieve irritation and provide antiseptic benefits.


Removal of Ingrown Hair on Face:

If you practice regular shaving, chances are pretty high that you’d experience ingrown hair every now and then. Thus it’s important to employ effective removal techniques before the skin bump gets infected and causes pain.

ingrown hair on face

  1. Use a Sharp Device:

A sterile needle or tweezers can be used to carefully remove the ingrown hair from within the skin. If the hair is seated deep inside the epidermis, wait for it to make its way on the skin. Digging into the skin would just increase the chances of infection and cyst formation.

  1. Herbal Exfoliator:

A mixture of baking soda, sea salt, sugar and olive oil can do wonders for moisturizing the skin, removing the debris and naturally healing the ingrown hair.

  1. Honey Mask:

Loaded with antiseptic and moisturizing properties, honey is the best herbal remedy to say goodbye to ingrown hairs. Dab a little honey on the affected area twice daily. This will make the surrounding skin loose and eventually release the free end of the ingrown hair. The free end can then be extracted using tweezers.

  1. Warm Compresses:

Application of warmth to the affected area will bring the entrapped hair closer to the skin surface thus assisting in its removal. Soak a light cloth in warm water and compress the affected area for a few seconds. This can be repeated several times per day until the desired result is achieved


Ingrown Hair on Face – Treatment Strategies:

Treatment is important in cases of swelling and irritation. Over-the-counter drugs are a great solution in such cases.

ingrown hair on face

  1. Steroids:

Topical steroids soothe the skin and help in bringing down the irritation and inflammation.

  1. Retinoids:

This class of drugs is effective in removing dead skin cells and pigmentation that accompanies ingrown facial hair.

  1. Antibiotics:

Oral or topical antibiotics must be employed when there’s a high risk of infection in the ingrown hair. This approach prevents cyst formation and ultimately avoids folliculitis.

  1. Depilatory Creams:

If you’ve established shaving as the root cause of ingrown hair then the best way would be to switch to other hair removal techniques like depilatory creams and waxing.

  1. Laser Hair Removal:

If you’re a chronic sufferer of ingrown hair and wants to get rid of this menace altogether, opt for a laser therapy. This approach aims to destroy the hair follicles by a laser beam and also removes any ingrown hairs in the way. The downside of this procedure is its high cost but the results are long-term and satisfactory.

  1. Electrolysis:

It’s a non-invasive procedure that destroys the hair follicles and prevents the growth of facial hair altogether. No facial hair equates to no ingrown hair.


The Bottom Line:

As irritating as the ingrown hair on face can be, their prevention and removal are very convenient. With the right techniques and quality products, the risk of ingrown hair on face can be reduced by several folds. If you’re resistant to home remedies then consultation with a dermatologist can yield beneficial results.


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