Ingrown hairs occur when hair curls around and grows back into the skin or if dead skin clogs the hair follicle and forces it to grow sideways. Ingrown hairs are often itchy and slightly painful. They look like small red dots on your skin, roughly the size of a pimple, and can become infected. Often, ingrown hairs will disappear on their own. If you have a stubborn ingrown hair, try loosening it with an exfoliator and a warm compress, and then pulling the hair loose with a pair of sterile tweezers.
Give the ingrown hair a week to clear up. In most cases, ingrown hairs will disappear without any intervention on your part. Typically, the ingrown hair will find a way to grow out through the skin that’s been blocking it. While waiting for the ingrown hair to clear up, do not pick or scratch at the ingrown hair.
- While you’re waiting for the ingrown hair to disappear, avoid shaving over the bump. If you nick the area, you’ll risk infecting or worsening the ingrown hair.
Apply a dab of acne medication to the ingrown hair. Ingrown hairs are pretty similar to pimples, especially when the ingrown hair is accompanied by pus. Apply benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid several times a day for a few days. This, combined with daily exfoliation, is often enough to remove the ingrown hair since swelling will be reduced, giving the hair more room to grow out (rather than in)
- You can purchase acne cream at any drugstore or pharmacy.
Apply a steroid cream to an infected ingrown hair. If your ingrown hair starts to fill with white or yellow pus, it’s infected. In this situation, before you remove the hair, you must treat the infection. Do this by rubbing a small dollop of steroid cream on the top of the infected skin. The cream will reduce swelling and help clear up the infection.
- Some steroid creams—like cortisone—are available over the counter. For a stronger steroid, visit your doctor, and ask for a prescription to a steroid cream.