If a hair curls around and grows back into your skin rather than rising up from it, this is referred to as an ingrown hair. Ingrown hairs most commonly occur after shaving or tweezing certain areas of your body, such as the face, the pubic area, the armpits, and the legs.
Ingrown Hair Symptoms
Ingrown hairs are most common in men who shave their face, especially if the hair grows in curly. This is because cutting a naturally curly hair too close can result in sharp edges that make it easier to pierce the skin. It also could be due to dead skin clogging a hair follicle, which forces the hair to grow in sideways rather than upwards and outwards. The signs and symptoms of an ingrown hair include:
- Papules: The most common symptom of an ingrown hair is a raised red bump (or a group of bumps) that resembles a tiny pimple.
- Pustules: Sometimes ingrown hairs can progress to form a boil-like sore that is filled with pus. This could mean that the ingrown hair has become infected.
- Hyperpigmentation: Sometimes ingrown hairs can cause the area around the ingrown hair to become darkened.
- Pain: If the ingrown hair develops into a lesion, this can sometimes be very painful.
- Itching: Often, ingrown hairs are very itching and uncomfortable, especially if you have more than one at once.
- Embedded hairs: Sometimes you are able to see the hair that is causing the problem embedded in your skin.
Ingrown Hair Complications
If you have chronic ingrown hairs, this could potentially lead to several complications, including:
- Bacterial infection: If you experience itching from ingrown hairs, you could get infections from scratching too much. Also, ingrown hairs sometimes make it easier for bacteria to get beneath the skin and form a sore or a boil that can fill with pus. If you are prone to staph infections, be careful to keep the areas of ingrown hairs clean to prevent infection from developing.
- Hyperpigmentation: It is common for the area of skin around ingrown hairs to become darker in color.
- Keloids: Sometimes ingrown hairs can leave behind permanent scars, which are referred to as keloids.