We’ve all been there… You’re admiring a silky smooth shave or wax job on your pretty skin when suddenly, you see that creepy thing. A red, painful, raised bump, ruining your smooth and flawless skin.
Many of us have this issue of “ingrown hair” that causes red spots on our skin, but should we do something about it? Or leave it be? Or maybe there is some other way to help our hairs?
If we decide to leave them, how long does it take for ingrown hair to go away?
The quick answer is: “few days to several weeks“, but stay with us if you want to know what’s important and after that, you will know the exact time. Stay with us, and we’ll start with a few basic facts.
What is ingrown hair?
An ingrown hair is a hair that has grown into the skin because it couldn’t pierce the main layer of skin, and it starts to grow inside your skin. Mainly the hair curls under during regrowth and grows back into the skin. Ingrown hairs are more common if you tend to have very curly hair.
Also if you cut naturally curly hair too short, the sharpened end of the hair can pierce your skin, causing ingrown hair. Curly hair is more likely to bend back and re-enter your skin, especially after it’s been first shaved or cut. That forces the hair to grow sideways under your skin, rather than up.
Very dry skin or dead skin can accumulate over a hair follicle, trapping the growing hair underneath the skin. Pressure or friction can be a problem, particularly in the spot already vulnerable to ingrown hairs. By irritating the skin it can make ingrown hair more likely to curl back.
How to recognize ingrown hair – symptoms
An ingrown hair causes changes under your skin. You might notice:
- A boil-like sore
- A raised red or white bump
- Red skin around the spot
If you look carefully you can see it. There may be one bump or several and the skin around them may be irritated and red.
How long does it take for an ingrown hair to go away?
Ingrown hairs almost always will go away by themselves, but the process is over only after the hair grows out of your skin naturally. It can take from a few days even up to several weeks depending upon many factors like:
How thick is your skin, if your hairs are naturally curled, or if you cut them too sharp. The full list of causes will be below. Loosening the hair follicle from the bump with a sterile(it’s important otherwise it can make things worse) needle will help to speed up the healing process. Things like plucking or simply touching the hair may cause hair to be in much worse condition, so avoid that
The easiest way to prevent ingrown hair is by not shaving, but is that really a solution?
If You want to shave or remove hair in another way there are things you can do to prevent hairs from going under your skin, and help them get better quicker:
- Shave in the direction the hairs are growing to not curl them back.
- Use an exfoliating scrub to help release ingrown hairs.
- If you’re using an electric razor, hold it slightly above the surface of your skin.
- Hold something cold and wet to the spot after shaving.
- Use shaving gel.
- Wet your skin with warm water before shaving.
- Use as few strokes of the razorblade as possible.
- Rinse the blade with water after every stroke.
- There are many other ways of hair removal that will prevent ingrown hair as IPL Laser hair removal (here is an article about this method).
If the bump has appeared on your skin, you should do this:
- Keep the bump and the area around it clean at all times.
- Apply warm compresses to the bump for around 10 minutes several times a day. These might bring the bump closer to the surface, allowing it to drain. The hair that is trapped under the skin, warm compresses may help it grow out.
- Apply an antiseptic cream, such as tea tree oil, to prevent infection.
Medications that will help:
- Creams to reduce inflammation.
- Drugs that help remove dead skin cells (such as tretinoin, Retin-A, Renova, others).
- Cream or pills to control infection.
Also, don’t do this:
- Shaving too close to the skin.
- Blunt razors, don’t use them, always use a new, sharp, single-blade razor every time you want to shave.
- Squeezing ingrown hairs can damage your skin and lead to infection.
- Don’t scratch ingrown hair spots.
- Avoid picking or popping the bump.
All the dermatologists that we spoke with did advise against popping or tweezing an ingrown hair bump, warning that this ups the likelihood of infection and isn’t a guaranteed way to remove the hair, so stay away from this solution.
Patience is the key when it comes to ingrown hair removal. Your best bet is to simply do a few things that we described above and it will help the hair come out on its own faster.
As we said above there are tons of other methods to shave your hair that will prevent ingrown hair from growing, the device is called: IPL Laser hair removal and it’s a home device that prevents your hair from growing (semi-permanent effect). We’ve spent a lot of weeks finding the best device for it under 100$. If you want to learn more about the pros and cons of IPL Laser hair removal read our article. If you decide to pop up an ingrown hair It can make you look less attractive for a few weeks.
If you’re dealing with a very inflated, painful ingrown hair bump, avoid synthetic fabrics and tight clothing. Skinny jeans, nylon leggings, and polyester underwear can rub against the skin, further exacerbating the irritation.
In most cases, you should leave ingrown hair to go away by itself, but if it stays the same after more than a month you should consult a doctor, the best option is to visit a dermatologist for a diagnosis.