If you've ever suffered the discomfort of an ingrown hair, you already know how much of a nuisance they can be.
The painful bumps, which are often found in places where you frequently remove hair — like under your arms and along your bikini line — are regular hair follicles that curl up and get trapped beneath the skin. These hairs often become irritated and infected resulting in redness and puss-filled pimples.
Which leaves you with two options: remove them or leave them alone and wait for them to grow out.
"If ingrown hairs aren’t removed they can cause further irritation to the skin, inflammation and even dark spots or infection depending on the severity and length of time they remain under the skin," Waxon Waxbar founder, Lexi Miles, tells The Huffington Post Canada.
Alternatively, Dr. Benjamin Barankin, a Toronto dermatologist and Medical Director of Toronto Dermatology Centre, says if the hairs aren't painful, red or swollen, you can wait for your skin to "spit it out" or for your body to "break it down."
For more tips on preventing and eliminating ingrown hairs, check out the tips below.
What Are Ingrown Hairs? Ingrown hairs are strands trapped beneath the skin's surface. "It normally appears as a red or white bump," says Waxon Waxbar founder Lexi Miles. "It can produce a raised bump that looks like a pimple, or be visible underneath of the skin."
Who Gets Them? Ingrown hairs are rare in kids and adolescents. Dr. Benjamin Barankin, a Toronto dermatologist and Medical Director of Toronto Dermatology Centre, says ingrown hairs mainly appear on people with coarse, curly hair and those who wear very tight clothing.
How Can You Avoid Them? According to Dr. Barankin, you can reduce your risk of getting ingrowns by shaving with the grain (as opposed to against it), growing out your hair or removing the hair entirely via laser hair removal. Miles also recommends exfoliating groomed areas two to three times a week to remove dead skin cells that might trap hairs.
What Causes Them? "Typically ingrown hairs occur in adults with curly hair," says Barankin who adds that tight clothing can also cause hairs to curl.
Do They Have To Be Removed? Eventually ingrown hairs are eliminated by breaking through the skin, or being broken down by the body, but Dr. Barankin says if they become uncomfortable, red or swollen it is a good idea to have them removed.
How Do You Remove Them? If the hair is starting to poke through the skin, Dr. Barankin suggests using fine tweezers or a needle to carefully pull it out. If it is too deep, you can also ask you physician or waxologist to extract it for you.
Will You Get Scars From Removing Them? Yes, it is possible to get a scar from being too aggressive while removing an ingrown hair, but Dr. Barankin says leaving an ingrown hair too long can also result in scarring. To reduce scarring, Miles suggests using products with glycolic acid, like PrinceReigns Ingrown Hair Serum to even your skin tone.