What causes ingrown leg hairs, anyway?
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Ingrown hairs are small, solid bumps or pus-filled blisters that form on the site of a hair follicle on your legs. They can be uncomfortable and unattractive. Wearing tight clothes, shaving, and waxing can cause ingrown hairs on your legs. They occur where hair has been trapped beneath the surface of your skin. With no way out, the hair will curl back underneath the skin. Some ingrown hairs are caused when blunt raisers cause hair to grow in the wrong direction. Others are caused by a build-up of dead skin cells in the hair follicle that block trap the hair beneath the surface of the skin. Unfortunately, the hair will continue to grow whether it is under or above the surface of the skin. Over time, ingrown hair will grow out on its own, but this takes more time than most people experiencing the itchy, ugly bumps are willing to wait. Unfortunately, treating them the wrong way can result in scarring or infection. If you experience pain, redness, or heat at the spot where you recently removed an ingrown hair, call your doctor. Here are some methods for removing ingrown hairs that are relatively painless and will avoid scars.
1. Use toner to get rid of those bumps on your legs.
Ingrown hairs are similar to pimples in the sense that the hair follicle where the skin is trapped is acting similar to a clogged pore. This is why the bumps on your skin where there's an ingrown hair look so much like pimples. For this reason, it's not surprising that treatments that work for pimples are also recommended for ingrown hairs. Toner can prevent ingrown hairs from happening in the first place. If there is a specific area where ingrown hairs are popping up, gently apply toner to the area can help prevent them. One time to avoid using toner is one or two days after you have your legs waxed. Skin is super sensitive at this time, and toner can make this worse.
2. Soak ingrown leg hairs and prevent scars.
Soaking an ingrown hair may not get rid of it without other action, but it is a great way to prepare the ingrown hair for removal. To soak your ingrown hair, soak a clean washcloth in warm water. Gently cover the bump created by the ingrown hair. Be careful not to press too hard or squeeze the bump, because if the skin breaks, you may get scars in the area. The warm water will bring the ingrown hair to the surface of the skin. Doing this over time may help an ingrown hair to grow out on its own, but this will also make it safe to remove the hair with tweezers.
3. Tweeze the ingrown hairs, but take your time in order to avoid scars.
Pulling ingrown hairs out using tweezers is the fastest, most direct way to remove them, but it needs to be done with finesse. Once you have soaked the hair, you will see the tip of the hair peeking out of the bump. Ease your tweezers under the hair, and guide it further out. Don't try to yank it out the first time, because this can cause scars and infection, and more likely than not, a new ingrown hair will develop in the place of the old one. To prevent this, gradually use the tweezers to pull it out after working on it for 3 or 4 days. After using tweezers on the ingrown hair, keep your eye on the area. If pain, heat, or redness occurs, talk to a doctor. If you choose to puck your ingrown hairs with tweezers, make sure that you take your time. Make sure not to tug at the hair against the grain. Instead, gently coax it out in the same direction it is growing.
4. Use a retinoid cream to get rid of bumps fast
Actually, just use a retinoid cream on your skin even if you don't have ingrown hairs. It's pretty awesome stuff. What is a retinoid cream, you may ask? It's a topical cream that includes vitamin A derivatives, and it apparently does amazing things for your skin. In addition to helping with ingrown hairs, it unclogs pores (translate: gets rid of acne,) smooths out fine lines, evens out skin tone, and brightens skin. Retinoid creams are easy to use, just apply the cream to the ingrown hair. Much like toner, it will clear away dead skin cells from the area. It may also cause the skin trapping the hair to become thinner, making it easier for the hair to find its own way out.
5. Change the shower gel you use on your legs
Keeping your skin clean and clear of dead skin cells is a way to help prevent and get rid of ingrown hairs fast. Pick a shower gel with Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) to help you along with this. Also known to create smoother, younger looking skin, AHA works helps with getting rid of dead skin cells to clear out the clogged pore that's trapping that ingrown hair. You have to use shower gel. Why not use one that will help get rid of ingrown hairs? Tea tree oil, or any other ingredient that is anti-inflammatory, is a good bet. Also look for shower gels that are designed to fight acne, but avoid anything that may be irritating to your skin, because that will just exacerbate your ingrowns.
6. Try laser hair removal on your legs
Laser hair removal is the one solution here that could be a permanent solution to your problem. Put simply; laser hair removal uses light energy to destroy your hair follicles so the hair in that area won't be able to grow back. It will target any hair in the area being treated, including ingrown hairs. Not only does the light energy get rid of the ingrown hair, but it also helps to reduce any discoloration that might be in the area. While this is a great long-term solution for ingrown hairs, it isn't a fast one, and it can be pricey. It can take several treatments to complete. One thing to also keep in mind is that it can cause up to 90% of hair not to grow back, but some hair will grow back in the area. It will be lighter, finer, and less noticeable than the hair that was there before.
7. Exfoliate: get rid of ingrown leg hairs by letting them grow out naturally
One common cause of ingrown hair is the build-up of dead skin cells in the hair follicle. Over time, sloughing these dead skin cells alone can cause the ingrown hair to come out on its own. Regular exfoliation can also prevent ingrown hairs from coming back. What is exfoliation? Exfoliation is simply the removal of dead skin cells from the surface of your skin. When you exfoliate, the dead skin is removed to reveal smoother, fresher skin. When done carefully and gently, it is great for your skin: it can help your skin products to penetrate your skin, it can get reveal younger looking skin, and it can even help you get rid of your ingrown hairs faster. When done too often, with harsh products, or with too much vigor, they can irritate skin, which can cause ingrown hairs to become inflamed and painful. If you are exfoliating your skin, you are either doing it chemically or mechanically. Dry brushing and sugar scrubs are examples of mechanical exfoliants. They physically scrub the dead skin away. Salicylic acid and Glycolic acid are examples of chemical exfoliants.
8. Use a body brush to rid yourself of ingrown hairs.
Your bath brush can do more than help you reach the middle of your back when you're showering. Consider trying dry body brushing. It works exactly the way it sounds like it should. Before getting wet in the shower or bath, gently scrub the skin on your legs (or wherever else you might need it) with a dry brush. The process will help to unclog your pores so that the trapped hair will be able to grow out on its own. Dry body brushing has also been known to reduce the appearance of cellulite, work as an energy booster, and is even thought to boost immunity. There are different types of brushes you can use dry. To help fight and prevent ingrown hairs, look for soft bristle brushes, or brushes that tout their ability to exfoliate.
9. Treat your legs with salicylic acid.
Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid that comes from plants like willow and wintergreen. It is normally associated with the treatment of acne. It will penetrate pores to get rid of dirt and oil, helping to unblock ingrown hairs. It also has anti-inflammatory qualities that will help to get rid of sore, red bumps at the site of ingrown hairs. Because it is a beta hydroxy acid, salicylic acid can penetrate deeper into the skin than alpha hydroxy acids do. Avoid using salicylic on dry skin, because it can irritate it. It is also meant to be a spot treatment. Dab it right on the site of the ingrown hair. Don't try to spread it all over your legs like a normal cream or lotion. Too much salicylic acid can cause your skin to peel. Using too much salicylic acid can also cause salicylate poisoning.
10. Try a product with glycolic acid.
Glycolic acid is found in unripened grapes, sugar cane, and sugar beets. It is an exfoliant that is known for being gentle skin. It can be used to treat psoriasis, among other skin ailments. It is also known to be an excellent treatment for scars. So if you do end up with a scar caused by incautious ingrown hair removal, you can treat the area with glycolic acid. It will help rid you of your ingrown hairs by unclogging the pores and allowing it to grow out. Other benefits of salicylic acid are boosting natural collagen production in your skin and helping to restore moisture to dry skin.
How can I keep ingrown hairs from coming back?
Event the fastest way to get rid of ingrown hairs isn't fast, but you finally got rid of those itchy, red bumps. Good riddance. Here's to hoping they never come back. And here is some advice to keep them away.
Since shaving is one way that ingrown hairs develop, take extra care when shaving. Try dry brushing your legs before shaving and allow the steam from your shower to soften your skin and hair before shaving. While exfoliating before shaving can help, proceed with caution because it can also have the opposite effect. Regular exfoliation is a good preventative measure, but make sure your method is a gentle one if you perform it before shaving. It may be best to exfoliate on the days you don’t shave.
After prepping your skin for shaving, be gentle with yourself as you shave. Try not to pull or tug on your skin to make it taught. This will keep stubble from breaking through your skin in the wrong direction. While your instinct may be to shave as closely as possible so that your skin will be smoother between shaves, the closer the shave, the more likely it is that you will develop ingrown hairs. Would you rather shave more often or have those bumps come back? Since electric razors tend to leave hair longer, they can help you achieve a less close hair. Whatever razor you use, make sure it is clean and sharp.
In the interest of keeping leg hair slightly longer, bring your razor down your leg, not up when you shave. While shaving against the grain provides a closer shave, it also may curl or bend the stubble you leave behind. This makes it easier for it to curl over itself and become trapped beneath the skin. It also is thought to be less irritating if you have sensitive skin.
Another way to avoid ingrown hair is to keep your razor clean. This means stopping to rinse off your razor in between strokes as you shave. Make sure it is clear of hair and dead skin that may clog pores, which can also contribute to ingrown hairs. If you are using a disposable razor or a razor with a disposable blade, change blades or razor often to avoid microscopic debris that can accumulate on the blade between blades. Open up electric razors and clean them out between shaves.
Try to wait as long as possible between shaves.
While leggings and skinny jeans are on trend and hard to resist, skintight clothes are a common cause of ingrown leg hair. Try to wear looser closer as often as possible. Friction against tighter clothing is can also be a culprit, so wear looser styles when you will be sweating and working out.
While there are strategies to avoid causing ingrown hairs while shaving, there are none to avoid them from waxing. Avoid waxing as much as possible. When hair is yanked out of its follicle during waxing, it has to force its way back through the skin when it grows back. This makes it even more likely to get ingrown hairs than a close shave. Save waxing for special occasions.
Be careful about what you apply to your skin. Avoid anything that stings or irritates your skin. Irritated skin is more prone to ingrown hairs.
Instead of shaving or waxing, consider using hair removal creams. They work beneath the skin to disintegrate the hair. They don’t leave the blunt edge that occurs with shaving or waxing.
Dangers of leaving ingrown hairs untreated.
While ingrown hairs will normally grow out on their own with no problem, keep an eye on those that don’t seem to want to go away, because there are some infections associated with them that can be dangerous. Some infections associated with ingrown hairs can even cause serious health problems.
One infection that could be caused by ingrown hairs is cellulitis. It is caused when bacteria penetrate the skin, typically through a sore that may be left from ingrown hair removal. Signs of cellulitis include swelling, redness, tenderness, fever, chills, and blisters. It must be treated with prescribed antibiotics, so if you think you might have it, contact your doctor. Precautions like disinfecting the skin around your ingrown hair can help prevent cellulitis.
Folliculitis is another infection that may be caused by ingrown hairs. It happens when bacteria enters the hair follicle. Ingrown hairs pave the way for them. It looks like a pus- or a blood-filled pimple, but what you see on the surface of your skin may be deeper than it appears, and it can even spread. Folliculitis can be diagnosed by a doctor. Your doctor will likely tell you to leave the area alone for a week or two, and she prescribes antibiotics if it doesn’t clear up on its own.
This infection is indicated by an abscess or cyst that is filled with pus. The area must be drained, or it will continue to grow, and may even lead to Sepsis.
When a staph infection is not treated, it can turn into sepsis. This happens when the infection enters the bloodstream, and the body starts fighting itself at the same time it fights the infection. Fortunately, this is rare. If ingrown hairs are removed with care, and a doctor is called immediately at any sign of infection, it is unlikely that sepsis will occur.