Ingrown Hair Facts
Ingrown Hair Overview
An ingrown hair is caused by a small hair under the skin that does not grow outward through the skin as it should. Instead, the tip of an ingrown hair grows sideways or curls back into the hair follicle to cause a localized area of skin irritation and inflammation. This area of skin irritation can appear as a small solitary tan, pink, or red bump on the skin surface, or it may appear in clusters. They can sometimes appear like tiny pimples. Ingrown hairs appear commonly on the face, neck, armpits, pubic region, buttocks, and legs, though they can appear just about anywhere. Ingrown hairs typically occur in teenagers and adults. An ingrown hair is a very common condition that is usually benign, but it can be irritating and lead to unsightly and embarrassing skin lesions.
Ingrown Hair Causes and Risk Factors
The most common cause of ingrown hairs is shaving, waxing, and tweezing unwanted facial and body hair. By removing hair and leaving the sharp tip of the hair so short and close to the skin surface, it is more prone to grow sideways or curl back into the hair follicle and get stuck under the skin surface, leading to irritation and inflammation of the overlying skin. Using incorrect shaving techniques and failing to take precautionary measures when shaving or removing hair increases your chances of developing ingrown hairs.
Ingrown hairs more commonly occur in individuals who have curly or coarse hair, such as African-Americans and Hispanics, although anyone can develop ingrown hairs. Ingrown hairs can also develop when the hair follicle becomes clogged with dead skin cells and debris, causing the tip of the hair to grow sideways. Tight clothing can also lead to and irritate existing ingrown hairs.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/16/2015
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