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Symptoms and Signs of Ingrown Hair

Doctor's Notes on Ingrown Hair

An ingrown hair is usually a small hair that lies under the skin and does not grow through the skin. It may grow sideways or curl back toward the hair root (follicle). Symptoms and signs of ingrown hair often appear as small reddish, pink or tan bumps on the skin. Occasionally, they look like tiny pimples with a pustular head. Within the pus, you may see a black dot; this is the hair surround by pus. In addition, around the base of the lesion the skin may be inflamed or reddish in color. Ingrown hairs may also be itching and cause pain. In males, ingrown hairs commonly affect the cheeks, chin and neck while in females, they often occur in the armpits, pubic region and on the legs.

The most common causes of ingrown hairs are due to shaving, waxing and hair removal by tweezers that leaves the sharp tip of the hair close to the skin surface but beneath the skin. This causes the hair to grow sideways or to curl back towards the hair root. This results in the hair being trapped underneath skin. Other causes that contribute to the development of ingrown hair are hair follicles blocked with dead skin cells and wearing tight clothing. Individuals with coarse and curly hair are at higher risk to develop ingrown hairs.

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.